Cyber Week in Review: Qatar News Agency, NHS Lanarkshire & US Navy Collisions

cyber security attacks

Each week we bring you the latest in cyber attack news, from which lessons are learned and laughs are had (depending on the newsreel).  Some weeks the cyberverse is a murky gray: was there a hack? Was there not? This is a gray week, not so funny. Cyber crime comes with some inherent difficulties. If someone breaks into your business and steals files, a crime has been committed and on your property. Cyber crime happens across a distance and in the digital world, even though, as is the case this week, it can have some serious real-world consequences.

If someone comes into a business and physically prevents your customers from making a purchase, you could call the police. The cyberverse is not policed in the same way. Cyber crime takes place in a nation-free zone, across borders, with a different set of laws. And cyber criminals are experts at exploiting these inherent difficulties.

Crime in Qatar

Up first: one of those gray crimes. When the Qatar News Agency posted stories of “leaks” that led to increased tension in an otherwise fairly peaceful region of the Middle East, they said the information was false. It seemed true enough that neighboring nations started closing borders to Qatar, even kicking out visitors. Qatar insisted foul play was involved, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.

Well, now some of those people may be eating crow: five arrests have been made in connection with the hack of the Qatar News Agency.  Despite other difficulties in the region, Turkey and Qatar honored their agreement to cooperate in matters of cyber security, and the five gentlemen in question were discovered and are being detained in Turkey. If cyber crime breaks down borders, arrests will require that kind of cooperation.

Hospital Gone Haywire

Over in Scotland ransomware has struck a hospital again. Though experts say this is not another round of WannaCry, Petya, or NotPetya, ransomware shows no sign of slowing.  Like other crime, cyber attacks beget copycats. This time the target was the National Health Services in Lanarkshire struck with a version of Bitpaymer.

Like other ransomware, the virus hijacked systems and demanded payment in Bitcoin. Also like other recent cyber attacks, this virtual world attack caused real-world consequences. Appointments and procedures ended up getting canceled. Things got a little chaotic.

When it comes to ransomware attacks remember:

  • Payment is no guarantee of restoration of services
  • Regular backups will give you something to fall back on
  • Most ransomware still comes in the form of phishing scams, so some staff training on the matter can go along way toward prevention.

You Sunk My Battleship

When two US Navy ship collisions occur in a span of only two months, investigators start exploring all possible reasons, including a cyber attack. Currently, the word on the street (or on the water) is that no foul play occurred in either collision. Still, considering that most modern-day navigation relies on satellite, it is not outside the realm of possibility.

The USS John McCain collided with a merchant vessel and the USS Fitzgerald with a cargo ship. The navy is feeling the heat for the collisions, and their GPS uses state-of-the-art encryption. But then, graduate students at the University of Texas, Austin, staged a similar demonstration, successfully spoofing the GPS system of an $80 million yacht and sending it off course. Like the incident in Qatar, we may soon be hearing of arrests in the matter.

Stay Tuned

For more news of current cyber attacks, stay tuned. We’ll bring you the latest hacker highlights, or the stories that become cyber news. Until then, enjoy the headlines, but stay out of them.

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