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HomeResearch & OpinionFrom Colonial Pipeline To KIA Motors, The Biggest Ransomware Attacks That Took...

From Colonial Pipeline To KIA Motors, The Biggest Ransomware Attacks That Took Place In 2021

Ransomware is harmful software which, when deployed on any device prevents the user from using the said device unless a sum of money is paid to hackers or cyber-criminals.

A victim’s information is held as leverage while they are given a set of instructions on how to pay the ransom and get access to their information back.

Ransomware is not just targeted towards individuals, but also corporations and because the software is designed in a way to spread across the whole server or database, it paralyses the organisation quickly.

During the ongoing pandemic, Ransomware is recorded to have risen by 37% while Common Vulnerabilities and Exposure (CVE) saw a rise of 356% compared to 2019. SonicWall, an internet security company recorded 78.4 million ransomware attacks in June 2021 alone.

Ransomware attacks started by targeting individuals, but its focus has shifted to industrial corporations like Air India, Haldiram’s, BSNL who faced major ransomware attacks in India.

Here is a list of the biggest ransomware attacks in 2021 so far:

ACER – In March 2021, Taiwanese computer manufacturer Acer was attacked by ransomware for $50 million that seemed to be the biggest ransomware demand then.
REvil group who were also responsible for the attack on Travelex in 2020 is supposedly behind this attack on Acer too. The security breach was said to be done through a Microsoft Exchange vulnerability which was also earlier the reason for the hacking of 30,000 US government and commercial emails.
As proof of the attack, the attackers shared pictures of stolen files which included financial spreadsheets, bank balances, etc. While the company did not make any official statement of having paid the ransom, they did say that a company like theirs was constantly under such attacks and the necessary reports were filed.

COLONIAL PIPELINE COMPANY – Colonial Pipeline, an American oil bases pipeline system faced a ransomware attack for which the company paid $4.4 million in bitcoin.
The attack affected the company’s computerised pipeline managing system for days because of which it stopped the whole pipeline operations. The attack is said to have been done by Darkside though, after a month of the payment, it was said that the FBI was able to get back a portion of the ransom paid.

BRENNTAG – Darkside also allegedly attacked Brenntag, a German chemical distribution company during the same time as Colonial Pipeline Company.
The information stolen was about 150GB for which $7.5 million or 133.65 bitcoins were demanded but after negotiations, Brenntag paid $4.4 million.

KIA MOTORS – Around February of 2021, KIA Motors was attacked by ransomware for $20 million which affected the payment systems, owner’s portal, and internal sites used by KIA Motors America among other things.

CNA FINANCIAL – One of the largest insurance companies in the USA, CNA Financial faced a breach in their security system in March 2021 which affected the data of 75,000 individuals being compromised. The information stolen included the names, social security numbers, etc of the company’s present employees, former employees, dependents, and contract workers.
CNA Financial paid $40million to get back its network.

All of these attacks are global but India is not far behind in terms of security breaches either. According to reports, India was the worst hit in 2021 with approximately 213 weekly ransomware attacks per organisation.

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Shagun Dhanuka
The writer is based in Kolkata. She loves to write about technology, gender issues and child right. She is an avid traveller and a book reader.

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