Cyberthieves Rely On Ransom In New Tech Threats

Thief with LaptopWith the threat of cyberattacks so widely known, chief information officers may feel as if they have taken the proper steps to prepare their companies for the worst that hackers can throw their way. While it is commendable that IT professionals are trying to stay on top of this issue, being proactive and taking precautions to protect their corporations’ sensitive information, they might not be ready to contend with the latest trend in cybercrime. In addition to gathering data that will allow hackers to infiltrate organizations’ bank accounts, a share of cyberthieves are now starting to hold businesses’ sites hostage and requesting ransom.

Hackers threaten sites for ransom
According to The New York Times’ Bits Blog, the networking site Meetup was recently the victim of such a stunt, showing that even one of the most prevalent tech enterprises is not off limits in the eyes of hackers. One morning, Scott Heiferman and Gary Burns – Meetup’s founder and chief technology officer – received an email explaining that they had minutes to fork over $300 in Bitcoins or else their website would pay.

Approximately four minutes later, the pair had not made any moves, and their page was bombarded with data – 40 times more than their page usually has to handle. As a result, the Meetup site crashed, and the company’s IT team was not able to sort everything out until the following week.

DDoS becomes cyberattack trend
Chief information officers should be mindful that this new kind of cyberassault, referred to as denial-of-service or DDoS attacks, is gaining in popularity – namely, among the tech startup circuit. Among some of the other organizations affected are Vimeo, Shutterstock and Basecamp.

At the moment, hackers are going through all of this effort for small sums, but targeted companies maintain that this is only the beginning. Organizations and their IT departments fear that if they agree to cyberthieves’ terms and hand over the Bitcoins, then it will become a continuous cycle in which hackers hike up the amount demanded each time, bleeding enterprises of their funds.

Fortunately, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into the incidents. According to The New York Times, two anonymous sources from the agency explained that, thus far, the investigation points to the possibility that these cyberattacks are being carried out by either the same person or group of persons. That being said, FBI spokeswoman Jennifer Shearer refused to comment.

If IT executives are concerned about the growing popularity of DDoS attacks, they may want to consider their options when it comes to securing their businesses’ sites. For example, companies like Cloudflare are able to help organizations out, taking measures to mitigate these assaults. By having an organization’s page traffic going to numerous data centers, these resourceful companies can detect DDoS attacks ahead of time so they can prevent all of this data from flooding and crashing a business’ site.

ATMs emerge as major targets
After CIOs take proactive steps to prevent this new type of cyberattack from occurring, they will also want to thwart other hacking issues. For instance, nearly everyone in the tech industry watched as the story behind the Target security breach unfolded. It turns out that cases of ATM attacks are becoming increasingly popular, in addition to instances when hackers swipe businesses’ bank account information.

Fox Business explained that hackers are using malware to tap into banks’ networks. Then, after getting their hands on PIN numbers of companies, these cyberthieves can access their accounts, depleting them completely. While this is relatively standard in terms of fraud and theft practices, these hackers are taking their efforts to the next level. With the help of malware, these IT criminals are changing ATM settings so that they can withdraw sums of money beyond the amount available in a given account.

“Cyberattacks on financial institutions to gain access to, and alter the settings on, Web-based ATM control panels used by small- to medium-sized institutions are on the rise,” representatives for the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council stated, according to Fox Business.

Bearing this in mind, CIOs should be especially careful when it comes to protecting financial information. Furthermore, if tech professionals happen to work for a bank, they need to make even more of an effort to defend their data and reinforce their networks. By making the necessary upgrades in terms of software, they could be able to fend off hackers and avoid ATM attacks. is your place on the web for intelligent, issue driven content that helps you develop practical IT solutions and strategy.