Data breaches. The dark web. Ransom demands.
While these phrases may seem like abstract plot points in a cable TV crime-solving show, Colorado businesses and enterprises of all stripes are learning about the increasingly serious threat of cybercrime as more continue to fall victim to malicious hackers.
“Every organization is vulnerable and every organization needs to be vigilant,” said Ken McConnellogue, spokesman for the University of Colorado system, which refused to pay a $17 million ransom after the theft of student data earlier this year.
Brazil’s JBS, the world’s largest meat supplier and the biggest employer in Greeley, faced a ransomware attack last weekend that shut down production at its beef plants across the world. In Greeley, home to JBS’s largest U.S. beef plant, multiple shifts were canceled this week due to the cyberattack, union officials said.
The attack on the meat processing giant is one of the latest and most high-profile examples of the escalating cyberattacks in Colorado and nationwide that have hit gas pipelines, universities, transportation agencies, and food and beverage suppliers.
While ransomware can target anyone, the FBI says it’s particularly worried about city, state and tribal government networks, as well as critical infrastructure such as police, fire and hospitals.
In May, a cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline, which provides nearly half the East Coast’s fuel supply, prompted a massive shutdown and panic-buying up and down the Eastern Seaboard that led to temporary fuel outages in 11 states.
Matt Kirsch, the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Colorado, said his office is working with law enforcement partners to prioritize the prosecution of cyberattacks and similar cases, while the FBI on Friday called these investigations a “top priority.”
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden this week launched a review of the threat posed by ransomware attacks and plans to bring up Russia’s harboring of hackers with President Vladimir Putin this month, the White House announced.
Experts warn against complacency and have some tips to help ward off cybercriminals.
“I fear something very big is on the horizon,” said Bob Bowles, instructor and director at Regis University’s Center for Information Assurance Studies and a cybersecurity expert. “There’s no nation on this Earth that could surprise us militarily because we would detect it. However, when you look at a cyberattack, that’s where they could really hurt us. Our power grids. Our nuclear grids. Our supply chains. Our fuel. Our water supply systems. I think they’re coming after our major infrastructures.”
Being ready for an attack
The Colorado Department of Transportation knows firsthand how cyberattacks can send an entire government agency scrambling.
Go to the news source: “Something big on the horizon” – Greeley Tribune