Federal law enforcement officials report computer network ransomware attacks are on the rise in Utah as recent cybercriminal “double-extortion” schemes are earning headlines for multimillion dollar payouts.
Once upon a time, cybercriminals were content with breaking into a company’s computer network with the sole purpose of locking out access to the business’ own data and then demanding a ransom payment to provide a code or “key” to restore operations.
But digital thieves have shown an evolving approach in successful attacks in recent weeks on meatpacking multinational JBS and East Coast fuel network operator Colonial Pipeline. In these cases, hackers first harvest — or “exfiltrate” — sensitive customer and/or employee data, then perform lockouts. This tactic creates a double-tiered threat that ensures that, even if a business target has backup copies of data secured in another storage location that it can easily recover, criminals have snared information they can threaten to make public, like personal credit details or proprietary secrets.
Laura Hoffner, chief of staff for Seattle-based strategic security consulting firm Concentric, said there’s an emerging hacker business model that employs a double-extortion approach to squeeze ransom money out of attack targets and sometimes in multiple payments.
“We’ve seen a lot more of this in the past year and a half,” Hoffner said. “First, hackers take control of a company’s network or cloud…