US Government Issues Thanksgiving Ransomware Warning


By Sean Lyngaas, CNN

(CNN) – US officials are asking US businesses and government organizations to take extra precautions against hackers this Thanksgiving after several Ransomware attacks during previous holiday periods.

A advisory On Monday, the FBI and the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) asked organizations to identify key IT security employees who could be on call in the event of a ransomware attack. The advisory highlights how preparing for disruptive hacks has become a daily task for US businesses and agencies after a series of high-profile ransomware attacks on critical US infrastructure this year.

“While we are not currently aware of any specific threat, we do know that threat actors do not take vacations,” CISA Director Jen Easterly said in a statement. “We urge all organizations to remain vigilant and report any cyber incidents to CISA or the FBI.”

Ransomware gangs like to strike on weekends or during holidays, when organizations are understaffed and potentially off guard. In one incident over the July 4 weekend, a hacker penetrated Kaseya, a major US IT vendor, in a ransomware attack that affected up to 1,500 businesses worldwide.

“[R]Recent trends in 2021 show malicious cyber actors launching severe and impactful ransomware attacks during holidays and weekends, including Independence Day and Mother’s Day weekend,” said said CISA and the FBI.

A study by security firm Cybereason of more than 1,200 security professionals working in organizations that have suffered a ransomware attack found that almost a quarter of respondents still have no plans to specific emergencies to deal with ransomware attacks during holiday periods.

Ransomware isn’t the only consideration when it comes to holiday scams. CISA’s counterpart in the UK, the National Cyber ​​Security Centre, iissued its own warning Monday that cybercriminals had compromised customer payment information on 4,000 small business websites.

Other types of hacks have rocked American businesses on past Thanksgivings. Sony Pictures Entertainment discovered over Thanksgiving week in 2014 that hackers had stolen tons of data from the movie studio and destroyed some company computers in the process. US officials later blamed North Korean hackers for the cyberattack.

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