Ransomware could make your burgers, gas cost more

Plus, how to be like Naomi Osaka, and the rise of McDonald’s robots

Jun 09, 2021 | Current events
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Where’s the beef?

US law enforcement officials were able to recover around half of a $4.4 million ransom paid by Colonial Pipeline to hackers last month. ICYMI, the attack by criminals with links to Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) provider DarkSide forced the key East Coast pipeline to shut down, caused temporary fuel shortages, and led panicked Americans to hoard gas in plastic bags. Last week, hackers struck again: this time targeting JBS, the world’s largest meat producer. The attack took around 20% of US beef production offline, and REvil was named as the FBI’s prime suspect.

Cyberattacks are nothing new, but the threat to US infrastructure is getting worse. While you were distracted by the pandemic, cybercriminals carried out 40 ransomware attacks against food companies. And ransomware victims paid hackers $350 million worth of crypto last year — a 311% spike from 2019. Crypto has made it easier to collect ransoms anonymously. Meanwhile, RaaS providers like DarkSide and REvil have built low-cost tools that make hacking simple for non-tech savvy crooks (think Squarespace, but for international cybercrime).

Many RaaS providers are thought to be based in Russia with links to the Kremlin, and the FBI director has compared the threat of cyberattacks to post-9/11 fears of international terrorism. While companies have been reluctant to pass the cost of security breaches onto customers, more prolonged outages could show up as higher prices, whether that’s at the pump or the drive-thru. With REvil and DarkSide coming for their burgers and gas, everyday Americans may be as keen for a crackdown on cybercrime as the FBI.


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