Some unknown hackers have launched a severe attack on Pemex, State Oil Company of Mexico, shutting down their computers and demanding a ransom in Bitcoin. This unfortunate incident happened not long after a report established the unprecedented rise of cyber-attack on private and government institutions in 2019.
It was reported that Pemex has refused to pay the ransom in Bitcoin. However, they have incurred a cost from this attack. This highlights the need to invest in cybersecurity as the cost incurred in cyber-attack can sometimes exceed the money spent to prevent it.
The impact of the attack led to the shut down of the company’s computers across Mexico with its payment system heavily affected. According to source, the hackers left a note containing instructions that led Pemex to where the payment was supposed to be made. From the note, it was found that the hackers had instructed them to pay the ransom in Bitcoin on a dark web site. They were asked to pay 565 Bitcoins, equivalent to $5 million. The hackers gave them up to 48 hours to make payment.
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In most cases, hackers give a small time range to give victims limited time to think before making a decision.
Using the contact details left behind, the hackers were contacted. Interestingly, they replied that the company had just missed its opportunity of benefitting from a special discount of the ransom amount. Pemex has not made any payment to the hackers as experts advise victims not to negotiate or agree to any fixed ransom, as it raises the chance of the victim being attacked again.
Pemex has clarified that only 5% of its computers were affected from the attack. They have also not shown much concern to the demand of the hackers as they are in the process of reconnecting their unaffected computers to resume operation.
The finance department of the company had all its computers shut down due to the massive impact of the ransomware attack. Also, the employees had difficulties in having their usual communication using email due to the attack, and resorted to WhatsApp messenger to convey information.
Despite the hit which seem to be severe enough to break down the company, it has been reported that the Oil Production was in no way affected.
It is sad to note that ransomware attack has cost a number of companies large sum of money that made them unable to get back on their feet. Many government institutions and multinational private companies have become victims to ransomware attacks and even paid ransom in Bitcoin after facing the reality of losing important files.
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The City of Riviera Beach once paid about $600,000 as ransom in Bitcoin to retrieve their files from hackers. However, a number of affected victims including the City of Atlanta turned down the decision to pay about $52,000 as ransom to hackers.
Pemex is reported to have rejected the payment of ransom in Bitcoin. However, it has been reported that they are losing about $71 million to clean up their system.
It has been reported severally that some of these data breaches are avoidable, as most of them were as the result of a mistake committed by a staff. Hackers in most of the time do not target a particular company and unleash all their techniques on. They just focus on the easy way by looking around for a company that has a gap in its security system to take advantage.
The type of malware used in this operation is not known. However, it is suspected that the hackers used Doppelpaymer malware based on the website they were referred to by the hackers. According to the report, an internal email by Pemex company revealed that the attack may have been launched with Ryuk malware.
This type of malware is usually launched on companies that have revenues between $500 million and $1 billion. It is reported that Pemex had a gross revenue of $80.6 billion in 2018 and recorded a net loss of $7.55 billion in the same year. Recently, it was reported that the general price level of cybercrime tools on the dark web have increased, indicating the market boom of the industry.
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