DENVER (CBS4) – The recent cyberattack on global meat supplier JBS shows the growing threat posed by ransomware in the US.
The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office was in contact with cyber criminals in 2015 when their website was hacked.
“(It) wasn’t an attack that stole our data,” said Sheriff Justin Smith. “It just overwhelmed the servers.”
The attack Sheriff Smith describes is called the Denial of Service, or DoS. Hackers attempt to disrupt normal traffic to a server or network by flooding it with a deluge of Internet traffic. The attack can paralyze a website and its services.
Larimer County responded to the incident by tightening its security. Sheriff Smith sits on the board of the National Sheriff’s Association and tracks cybersecurity trends. He encourages small business owners to secure and encrypt their data in case they are victims of a cyber attack.
“What we are experiencing now is what we are thinking about – that person in the basement who hacks to the criminal cartels who extort the cyber ransom. Now let’s move on to what the cyber experts have been saying for a while, we have state actors, ”he said.
Ondrej Krehel, chief executive officer and founder of cybersecurity company LIFARS, has worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to stop cyber crime. He told CBS4 that hacking has become a disease.
“You live in a time of cyber warfare, being hacked is one of the certainties of life,” said Krehel.
While high-profile cyberattacks have targeted large companies like JBS and Colonial Pipeline, small businesses often have fewer IT resources, making them more vulnerable to hacks. Cyber criminals often consider a company’s annual revenue when asking for ransom.
“If they break your records, they pretty much have a formula for how much you’re going to pay,” Sheriff Smith said.
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Krehel said incident response firms like LIFARS can help companies mitigate the effects of a ransomware attack.
“Do you know how we do an annual checkup? Call someone who is a cyber doctor, pay him two or three sessions, tell me what you think I need to improve, ”suggested Krehel.
The FBI does not recommend paying a ransom as it does not guarantee that a company can access its data. Officials say ransom payments encourage and encourage cyber criminals to engage in illegal activity. Organizations often have to weigh the pros and cons of the situation when faced with blackmail threats.
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