MIAMI – The Miami-based company’s CEO at the center of a global ransomware hack says cryptocurrencies continue to be a huge part of the problem while steps are being taken to restore client access to critical files and infrastructure.
Fred Voccola, who has headed Kaseya since 2015, told the Miami Herald on Thursday that one of the biggest discoveries from the July 4th weekend attack that forced Swedish grocery stores and New Zealand kindergartens open and could have affected up to 1,500 businesses is cryptocurrencies must advocate stricter regulation.
“I’m not saying it should be legal or illegal,” said Voccola. “But we need to make sure that there has to be some kind of accountability in all kinds of financial transactions. Otherwise, it’s not just about ransomware – although 100% of the (digital) ransom money happens with anonymous currencies like Bitcoin – but what about money laundering, human trafficking, narcotics, whatever. “
Cybersecurity experts say the anonymous group behind the hack called for a total of $ 70 million in Monero, a cryptocurrency billed as “secure, private and undetectable”.
Contrary to reports, said Voccola, it was not Kaseya itself, but its customers who were ransomed. Cyber threat officials say the hackers found a vulnerability in one of Kaseya’s products that allowed them to encrypt files belonging to Kaseya customers and that a ransom had to be paid to regain access to them. He didn’t want to say how many paid.
In any case, the advent of cryptocurrencies has spurred the ransomware industry on, Voccola said – although cryptocurrency proponents argue that a restriction would go against their minds and only treat one symptom, not the underlying cause.
“With anonymous currencies, criminals don’t have to worry about getting caught – the risk / reward ratio is there,” said Voccola. “So you can commit crimes all day. And the people who did this to us are really smart. Now really smart people can commit crimes, and it’s a nominal risk because there’s no money trail. “
Jack Cable, security architect for cybersecurity group Krebs Stamos Group, said there was no consensus among cybersecurity experts on how – or if – cryptocurrencies should be regulated, although many agree that cryptocurrency designers and the communities they help regulate do Integration of “know your” should consider customer “protocols. Even Bitcoin, he said, is merely a pseudonym – and not entirely anonymous – as all transactions can be tracked.
A more holistic solution would include a total ban on ransom payments. While this would cause suffering for the individual victims, society as a whole would benefit if such policies helped deter cyber criminals.
In general, the recent incident is further evidence that companies can no longer view cybersecurity as something that requires minimal investment.
Voccola said Kaseya, which is privately owned and employs 275 people at its downtown Miami headquarters, is likely to lose “some growth points” after the hack, but that its long-term development will remain the same. The company announced in May that it would hire 500 people by 2022 – a plan Voccola said remains in place.
“The part of our business that is affected is an important one, but a small one,” he said. “We have 1,600 employees worldwide and $ 400 million in recurring income. We could go from 28% annual growth to 26% or 25%, but I haven’t thought too much about those numbers. At the moment I’m trying to make sure that every single one of our customers is back online. “
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