WASHINGTON – Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the FBI are calling for vigilance to deter ransomware attacks and urging companies to implement multi-factor authentication and avoid employees clicking on suspicious emails.
“While we are not currently aware of any specific threats, we do know that threat actors do not go on vacation,” said KISA director Jen Easterly in a statement. “We will continue to provide timely and actionable information to help our industry and government partners stay safe and resilient over the holiday season. We urge all organizations to remain vigilant and report cyber incidents to the CISA or FBI.”
“Malicious cyber actors in particular have often used holidays and weekends to disrupt critical networks and systems of organizations, companies and critical infrastructures,” the statement continues.
Colonial Pipeline, which is responsible for gas pipelines running through the country, was targeted with a ransomware attack on Mother’s Day weekend. Meat supplier JBS was the victim of a ransomware attack over Memorial Day weekend. Kaseya, an IT company that provides business services, was hit by a ransomware attack on the weekend of July 4th.
On Thursday, General Paul Nakasone, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, told ABC News’ chief correspondent Pierre Thomas that he initially believed ransomware was a criminal matter outside of the NSA’s purview, but after the influx He believed that ransomware attacks were about national security.
After the attack on the Colonial Pipeline, Nakasone urged his agency to “lean on” the ransomware problem.
“This is an issue that we need to direct command and agency to,” said Nakasone. “We need to address this issue. What do we need to do to make sure we can help in any way we can?”
The Department of Homeland Security said ransomware attacks increased by 300% from 2019 to 2020.
“Why are the National Security Agency and US Cyber Command focusing on this?” said Nakasone. “Because it’s a national security issue and we’re going to bring our best people up to make sure we tackle it.”
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