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Hackers target multi-billion dollar firm in ransomware attack

5 months 1 week 3 days ago Thursday, August 12 2021 Aug 12, 2021 August 12, 2021 7:19 AM August 12, 2021 in News
Source: CNN

DUBLIN, Ireland - One of the world's wealthiest companies has been targeted by cybercriminals in a ransomware attack, CNN reports.

An Irish-based multinational company called Accenture that's worth about $44.33 billion confirmed Wednesday that it is dealing with a cybersecurity incident.

A group of criminals known as the 'LockBit ransomware gang' are claiming responsibility for the attack, and on their website, the LockBit ransomware gang said Accenture's encrypted files would be published on the dark web unless the company pays a ransom.

Accenture provides consulting and professional services and employs about 569,000 people in various countries, including the United States. 

A company spokesperson named Stacey Jones addressed the incident Wednesday.

Interestingly, Jones did not refer to the event as a ransomware attack.

She said, "Through our security controls and protocols, we identified irregular activity in one of our environments. We immediately contained the matter and isolated the affected servers. We fully restored our affected systems from back up. There was no impact on Accenture's operations, or on our clients' systems." 

Though the company appeared to play down the attack, outside sources indicate the attack was severe. 

For example, a cybercrime intelligence firm called Hudson Rock reported on Twitter that about 2,500 computers of employees and partners were jeopardized in the attack.

A separate research firm, Cyble, claimed to have seen a ransom demand of $50 million for about 6 TB of stolen data.

The LockBit ransomware gang first emerged in September 2019 and began leasing malicious software to third-party criminal affiliates who then receive a cut of ransoms in exchange for planting the code onto victim networks.

Cyberattacks increasing in frequency, potency 

These kinds of attacks, by LockBit and other cybercriminals, have become an increasing threat to national and economic security. 

Earlier this year, an attack by the group DarkSide forced Colonial Pipeline to shut down its fuel distribution operation, which led to gasoline shortages across the U.S. 

CNN also notes that an online attack was pitched against JBS Foods by a group of hackers known as REvil. Seeing as JBS Foods is one of the world's largest meat suppliers, this had an impact on food supply in many areas. A subsequent attack by the same group targeted the IT software vendor Kaseya and infected an estimated 1,500 small businesses around the world.

The federal government's response to cyberattacks

According to the Washington Post, last month FBI Director, Christopher Wray compared the federal government's aim to shut down cybercriminals and their attacks to the challenge posed by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist strikes. 

The U.S. ramped up its efforts to shut down hackers after the Colonial Pipeline attack in May. At that time, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to shore up the federal government's digital defenses and the private sector has been encouraged to bolster its own cybersecurity. 

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