US to challenge Moscow as Russian hackers hold businesses hostage

Thousands of businesses across the world have been hit by an audacious ransomware attack by Russian hackers. The US say they will challenge Moscow about it.

Russian hackers REvil are demanding up to $70 million in crypto currencies after they infiltrated Florida-based IT company Kayesa. The attack is believed to be “the biggest ransomware attack on record”.

Kayesa provides tech and security to firms across the world who have outsourced the responsibility to them. Kayesa, in turn, sends regular security updates to its customers. On Friday, July 2, unsuspecting clients however received Revil’s ransomware disguised as an update from Kayesa.

It is still unclear how many customers were affected but the figure could reach 2,000, including a supermarket chain in Sweden that had to close 800 shops and at least 145 victims in the US.

REvil have form. In June they targeted JBS, the world’s largest meat supplier knocking its systems offline. JBS supplies, which supplies meat to McDonald’s, was temporarily forced to close two plants.

Fred Voccola, Kaseya’s chief executive officer, told Reuters he could not confirm whether Kaseya would pay the $70m ransom. The company had hoped to go public later this year.

In May, fuel supplies in some parts of the US were disrupted by a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline. US authorities have since confirmed a Russian hackers were behind the attack.

On July 7, the Republican National Committee also denied that “Cozy Bear’ Russian hackers accessed their data during a breach of an outsourced provider last week.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said the US will convene an interagency group to discuss the increase in ransomware attacks.

“As the president made clear to President Putin when they met, if the Russian government cannot or will not take action against criminal actors in Russia, we will take action or reserve the right,” Psaki said.

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Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.