Cybersecurity

FBI warns of dual ransomware attacks, and other cybersecurity news to know this month

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Top cybersecurity news: FBI warns of dual ransomware threat; Companies struggle to overcome cyberskills gap; and more.

Top cybersecurity news: FBI warns of dual ransomware threat; Companies struggle to overcome cyberskills gap; and more. Image: REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Akshay Joshi
Head of Industry and Partnerships, Centre for Cybersecurity, World Economic Forum
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This article is part of: Centre for Cybersecurity
  • This news round-up brings you key cybersecurity stories from the past month.
  • Top cybersecurity news: FBI warns of dual ransomware threat; Companies struggle to overcome cyberskills gap; Actor Tom Hanks distances himself from AI deepfake advert.

1. US companies face dual ransomware attack risk, says FBI

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is warning companies in the United States to be alert to the risk of dual ransomware attacks, in which the same organization is targeted more than once in quick succession.

The warning came in an FBI private industry notification dated 27 September 2023: "The FBI noted a trend of dual ransomware attacks conducted in close proximity to one another. During these attacks, cyber threat actors deployed two different ransomware variants."

The FBI also pointed out that a range of ransomware tools are being used in different combinations - with potentially devastating consequences for targeted companies. "This use of dual ransomware variants resulted in a combination of data encryption, exfiltration, and financial losses from ransom payments. Second ransomware attacks against an already compromised system could significantly harm victim entities."

In most cases, the second attack has come within 48 hours of the first, but the period between attacks has been as long as 10 days.

To mitigate the risks from dual ransomware attacks, the FBI recommends companies review their security posture, maintain offline back-ups of critical data and ensure those back-ups are encrypted.

2. Companies failing to close global cybersecurity skills gap

A report into employment challenges in the cybersecurity sector finds companies around the globe are failing to fill millions of vacant positions. The Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), which has 170,000 members in 188 countries, has published its 2023 State of Cybersecurity global update.

The report, which details the opinions of 2,178 members who responded to a global survey, found the industry was failing to attract recruits to fill positions from entry-level right up to C-suite roles.

A chart showing slow progress on filling vacant cybersecurity positions.
Progress to fill vacant cybersecurity positions is slow. Image: ISACA

Looking to the future, ISACA sees no short-term solution to the staffing challenges in the sector and a rising demand for skilled cybersecurity specialists.

The report's findings align with the World Economic Forum's Global Cybersecurity Outlook, 2023, which reveals that 59% of business leaders and 64% of cyber leaders rank talent recruitment and retention as key challenges for managing cyber resilience. Additionally, less than half of the respondents reported having the people and skills needed today to respond to cyberattacks.

According to the Forum's Future of Jobs 2023 report, cybersecurity is among the top strategically emphasized skills for the workforce. Yet, there is a shortage of 3.4 million cybersecurity experts to support today’s global economy.

A less traditional approach to training and recruitment in the cybersecurity sector, focused on diversity and a less rigid reliance on qualifications, could significantly widen the pool of available talent.

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How is the Forum tackling global cybersecurity challenges?

3. News in brief: Top cybersecurity stories this month

The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has launched a new campaign for the 20th Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Under the campaign theme of Secure our World, CISA is urging organizations and individuals to take four steps to protect themselves against the growing threat from cybercriminals: use strong passwords; switch on multi-factor authentication; regularly update software; and recognize and report phishing attempts.

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Hackers have broken into computers at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands. The ICC investigates war crimes and crimes against humanity. According to Reuters, staffers at the ICC noticed unusual activity on its computer networks. The ICC said it was working to mitigate the impact of the cybersecurity breach.

Ukraine has accused Russia of hacking its law enforcement computer systems. Ukraine's head of cyber defences said the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's office and departments documenting war crimes had been targeted, Reuters reports.

More than 50 organizations in Colombia have been targeted in a widespread cyberattack. According to Reuters, the ransomware attack hit government systems and private companies after hackers targeted an Internet Service Provider.

The Hollywood actor Tom Hanks has warned consumers that an advertisement in which he appears to promote a dental plan is a deepfake created using AI technology. Hanks posted a screengrab from the video on Instagram, explaining to his 9.5 million followers, "I have nothing to do with it." The emergence of generative AI has raised concerns that convincing fake imagery could aid the spread of disinformation and damage trust in online content.

Tom Hanks warned consumers about a deepfake image in which he appears to promote a dental plan.
Tom Hanks warned consumers about a deepfake image in which he appears to promote a dental plan. Image: Tom Hanks/Instagram

4. More on cybersecurity on Agenda

The European Union's new Digital Markets Act is aiming to regulate tech giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon. The law seeks to ensure fair competition, data sharing and transparency around tracking users' data. There are significant fines for non-compliance.

Every online user is facing a growing threat from ransomware - malware designed to deny an organization access to files or data on their computer. This article details six ways individuals and organizations can protect themselves from online extortion.

The energy systems that underpin entire economies are facing “an unprecedented threat” from cyberattacks, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Industry research shows that utility companies are spending an average of 8% of their total IT budget on cybersecurity – but the number of attacks is outpacing spending.

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Contents
1. US companies face dual ransomware attack risk, says FBI2. Companies failing to close global cybersecurity skills gap3. News in brief: Top cybersecurity stories this month4. More on cybersecurity on Agenda

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