Business Continuity Management / Disaster Recovery , Cybercrime , Fraud Management & Cybercrime

Dealing With a Surge of 'Disruptionware' Attacks

Retired FBI Agent Jason G. Weiss Describes the Trend
Retired FBI agent Jason G. Weiss, attorney at Faegre Drinker, Biddle and Reath

Among the more malicious and potentially dangerous cyber incidents affecting healthcare, energy and other sectors are evolving “distruptionware” attacks – including ransomware - that aim to shut down businesses, says retired FBI agent Jason G. Weiss, an attorney and forensics expert.

See Also: NHS Ransomware Attack: Healthcare Industry Infrastructures Are Critical

“What I’ve seen is a tremendous growth in the attacks matrix against hospitals and government institutions in particular, and recently there’s been a spread of disruptionware attacking the energy industry,” he says in a video interview with Information Security Media Group.

Destructive Attacks

Although there have been a number of recent attacks on educational institutions, “ultimately, those attacks are limited in the sense that many of those organizations don’t have a whole lot of money to even pay a ransom,” he says.

Instead, attackers are now going after organizations with "deeper pockets, or in some cases … have used ransomware and other distruptionware attacks to actually shut places down and destroy businesses,” he says. Hackers in many such incidents, he says, are “maniacal in the sense that they’re not doing it for money, but out of spite or for some political reason,” he says.

Among such recent incidents in the healthcare sector was an alleged ransomware attack on Universal Health Services, which the company said “disrupted aspects” of the company's clinical and financial operations across hundreds of facilities in the U.S.

In the interview (see video link below photo), Weiss also discusses:

  • The ways in which distruptionware attacks are expanding and evolving;
  • Groups potentially behind many of these cyber incidents;
  • How COVID-19 is influencing attack and cybercrime trends;
  • Proactive steps for organizations to take to “harden” their networks against distruptionware attacks.

Weiss is counsel in the Los Angeles office of the law firm Faegre Drinker, Biddle and Reath's information governance and e-discovery group. His practice focuses on cybersecurity incident preparedness and response, compliance with information governance laws and requirements, as well as data analytics, investigations and e-discovery. Previously, Weiss was supervisory special agent in the FBI Los Angeles cyber and forensics branch, where he founded, designed and led a nationally recognized and accredited computer forensics laboratory.

About the Author

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee

Executive Editor, HealthcareInfoSecurity, ISMG

McGee is executive editor of Information Security Media Group's media site. She has about 30 years of IT journalism experience, with a focus on healthcare information technology issues for more than 15 years. Before joining ISMG in 2012, she was a reporter at InformationWeek magazine and news site and played a lead role in the launch of InformationWeek's healthcare IT media site.

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