It’s Monday again, and it’s also April! I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend. This is a busy week in the world of Cyber Events. This week marks the beginning of the National Cyber League Spring Season, which began on March 30th and goes all the way until May 25th. This is a puzzle-based, capture-the-flag style cybersecurity competition. It is mainly for high school and college students to prepare themselves against cybersecurity challenges that they will encounter in the workforce. Another premier event happening this week is the 4th Middle East Cyber Security Summit, which takes place April 4th-5th. The event is hosted in Saudi Arabia (yes, it’s a little far), and it features presentations, hackathons, and demonstrations from experts and leading technology providers around the world. The focus of the summit is on blockchains and artificial intelligence. If you have the opportunity to go, you shouldn’t miss it.
As for this week’s “hot” news, I want to talk about the Atlanta hack, which I am sure most of you have heard about by now. The hacking team “SamSam,” has infected the city of Atlanta’s computer network with ransomware and has made it so all things on the network are inaccessible. If you are unsure of what ransomware is, it is a method in which hackers prevent users from accessing their systems or network and holds them for ransom. In this case, the hackers were holding access to Atlanta’s network for ransom. The hackers were asking for $51,000 to be paid in Bitcoin, and it only gets worse. The lack of access to the network made it impossible for the busiest airport in the U.S. to function, courts were not able to validate warrants, and most importantly, the city may have permanently lost many important digital files. To get a sense of how bad this is, one Atlanta city official said: “We’re so f**ked. We’re not paying the ransom. There’s no point. We’ll bite the bullet and re-build our system in a stronger way.” It has now been over a week since the attack, and the city is still struggling to access critical files and most files have been found to be either lost or corrupted. The city of Atlanta did not pay the ransom, and no one is sure of whether they will or not. It seems as if they are going to just accept the damage and better prepare for the future.
The Atlanta Hack highlights the importance of identifying and remediating critical vulnerabilities in your Information System to prevent such an attack and also emphasizes the necessity to have adequate backups and a vetted incident response plan.
Tune in next Monday for more news! Have a great week everyone.