Upcoming holidays prompt ransomware warning from authorities

US authorities have warned operators of vital nationwide infrastructure (CNI) and IT providers suppliers to be alert to tried ransomware attacks over the approaching days, because the nation winds down forward of the annual Thanksgiving vacation.

In a brand new alert, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and its companions on the FBI stated current historical past advised that through the vacation interval, extra persistent malicious actors could also be minded to strike at a time when places of work are typically closed and IT safety groups decreased to a skeleton workers.

This was the case in the summertime 2021 ransomware assault on the techniques of Kaseya, which unfolded over the lengthy Independence Day weekend – an assault by which, regardless of being a number of thousand miles away and disinclined to provide their staff a break day on 4 July, a number of UK organisations have been impacted.

Other high-profile ransomware assaults on Colonial Pipeline and JBS, a meat supply firm, additionally unfolded round US holidays Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, respectively.

“Although neither the CISA nor the FBI has currently identified any specific threats, recent 2021 trends show malicious cyber actors launching serious and impactful ransomware attacks during holidays and weekends, including Independence Day and Mother’s Day weekends,” stated the companies within the joint advisory.

“The CISA and the FBI strongly urge all entities – especially critical infrastructure partners – to examine their current cyber security posture and implement best practices and mitigations to manage the risk posed by cyber threats.”

In addition to the usual anti-ransomware precautions – akin to mandating multifactor authentication for distant entry and admin accounts, locking down and monitoring distant desktop protocol (RDP), and coaching staff to identify phishing assaults and different warning indicators – the CISA and the FBI are additionally recommending that safety leaders take a while to establish acceptable cyber personnel who can be accessible to supply surge cowl within the occasion of an assault going down at such a time.

A current examine of organisations that had suffered ransomware assaults on a weekend, or a public vacation, discovered that 37% of UK respondents didn’t have particular contingencies in place at such durations to make sure a prompt response – even after having been victimised.

In the report Organisations at risk: ransomware attackers don’t take holidays, Cybereason analysts spoke with 1,200 cyber execs – 500 within the UK – and located an enormous disconnect between the danger ransomware poses in periods of organisational downtime, and general preparedness.

Almost two-thirds of UK respondents stated that they had wanted extra time to evaluate the scope of the impression, nearly half stated they wanted extra time to correctly reply, and nearly one-third stated they wanted extra time to recuperate correctly.

Cybereason additionally discovered that 71% of respondents indicated that they had been drunk whereas responding to a ransomware assault on a weekend or vacation, a threat issue that’s unlikely to be thought-about in incident response plans.

The most disruptive ransomware attacks in 2021 have occurred over weekends and during major holidays when attackers know they have the advantage over targeted organisations,” stated Lior Div, founder and CEO of Cybereason.

“Organisations are not adequately prepared and need to take additional steps to assure they have the right people, processes and technologies in place so they can effectively respond to ransomware attacks and protect their critical assets.”

More information on holiday ransomware attacks is available from the CISA, whereas the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre additionally publishes ransomware mitigation steering, which can be found here.

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