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Update: Garmin yet to recover after ransomware attack

Update: Garmin yet to recover after ransomware attack

Ransomware attacks are increasing in their frequency and intensity

Garmin customers are still unable to access their health and fitness data, five days after a suspected ransomware attack on the company’s servers was reported.

Garmin makes GPS-enabled fitness trackers. Its GarminConnect service syncs health and fitness data with user’s smartphones.

Also down is flyGarmin, a web service that supports the company’s line of aviation navigational equipment. Pilots who use the service cannot currently download up-to-date aviation databases, which is a legal requirement in some countries.

The company says the attack also affected its call centre, leaving the company unable to answer calls, emails or online chats. Its production facility in Taiwan is also down, according to ZDNet, quoting Taiwanese tech commentators.

A statement on the Garmin website confirms that its services are still out. A statement said: “We are currently experiencing an outage that affects Garmin.com and Garmin Connect. This outage also affects our call centers, and we are currently unable to receive any calls, emails or online chats. We are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible and apologize for this inconvenience.”

The ransomware attack on Garmin is the corporate equivalent of a heart attack, said Sam Curry, CSO at cybersecurity company Cybereason. “The longer it takes to restart the heart, the bigger the damage to Garmin or any business for that matter. The attack will kill Garmin’s revenues, cause layoffs and result in customers being angry and competitors benefiting,” Curry added.

In a ransomware attack, cybercriminals encrypt and hold customers’ data, and only release it when they have been paid, usually in hard-to-trace cryptocurrencies.

Curry said most companies have contingency plans and tools in place now to deal with the ransomware threat. Because of these factors, many organizations feel like ransomware is now an understood and contained risk.

“However, that’s, for the most part, a false sense of security because most of the lack of recent ransomware outbreaks is due to the attackers using it differently, more surgically, if you will, not because defenders are stopping it better,” he added.

Ransomware attacks are increasing in their frequency and intensity. Just this past week, the UK National Cyber Security Centre revealed that an unnamed English Football League club was attacked by ransomware that crippled their corporate security systems.

The attackers demanded 400 BTC ($3.66m). The club declined to pay, resulting in a loss of their stored data.

It has also recently come to light that at least 10 universities in the UK, US and Canada have had data about students and/or alumni stolen after hackers targeted a cloud computing provider, Blackbaud. The company is one of the world’s largest providers of education administration, fundraising, and financial management software, according to the BBC.

The US-based company’s systems were hacked in May.

Email is one of the main conduits for delivering ransomware. Although details of the Garmin attack are scant at this time, Curry says all enterprises should educate their employees to refrain from clicking on unfamiliar links or downloading pirated or software offered for “free”.

“Humans are the single biggest asset cyber criminals have in extorting money from businesses,” Curry added.

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