While the two US government agencies don't have any specific threat intelligence indicating that cyberattacks are planned for the holiday weekend, they as well as cybercriminals know that organizations are often short-staffed on holidays making them vulnerable. For this reason, the FBI and CISA are recommending that organizations with the necessary capabilities engage in preemptive threat hunting on their networks to search for signs of cybercriminals or threat actors.
Ransomware continues to be a particularly concerning problem for US businesses and both government agencies also warned that paying a ransom to cybercriminals does not guarantee that an organization's data will be returned. This is why organizations shouldn't give into an attacker's demands by paying a ransom and should instead contact the appropriate authorities.
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Executive assistant director for cybersecurity at CISA, Eric Goldstein provided further insight on how CISA and the FBI work together to combat ransomware in a press release, saying:
“Ransomware continues to be a national security threat and a critical challenge, but it is not insurmountable. “With our FBI partners, we continue to collaborate daily to ensure we provide timely, useful and actionable advisories that help industry and government partners of all sizes adopt defensible network strategies and strengthen their resilience. All organizations must continue to be vigilant against this ongoing threat.”
Cybercriminals view holidays, weekends and especially holiday weekends as an ideal time to target potential victims including both small and large businesses as IT teams are often limited.
Back in May in the run-up to Mother's Day weekend for instance, the DarkSide ransomware group launched a devastating attack on the Colonial Pipeline which resulted in a week-long suspension of operations. Later that month over the Memorial Day weekend, the ReEvil ransomware group launched an attack on the major meat processor JBS that led to a complete production stoppage.
Over the Fourth of July holiday weekend this year, the operators of the ReEvil ransomware struck again and attacked the IT management firm Kaseya and this affected hundreds of organizations including multiple managed service providers and their customers.
While CISA and the FBI's advisory is intended for both large and small businesses, consumers also need to be on the lookout for cyberattacks and should protect themselves by using a VPN while connected to public Wi-Fi, installing antivirus software on their computers, using a password manager to generate and store strong passwords and avoiding opening attachments from any suspicious emails they receive from unknown senders.
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After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.