Ransomware attacks have been spreading like wildfire, infiltrating various sectors and leaving devastation in their wake. While industries like finance, critical infrastructure, and healthcare have long been the prime targets, a recent study reveals that the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry is not immune to these cyber threats. In this episode of the KBKast podcast, Host Karissa Breen discusses this trend with cybersecurity expert Kavitha Mariappan, Executive Vice President, from Zscaler.
“Threat actors are motivated by financial gain and will relentlessly pursue profit, so it is important for everyone to have proper mitigation measures in place.”
Expanding Threat Landscape
Traditionally considered a niche threat, ransomware attacks in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry have been relatively low. However, recent findings emphasise that this industry is not exempt from these cyber assaults. Mariappan warns that other sectors, including manufacturing and education, must also start considering their vulnerability to ransomware attacks.
No Sector is Safe
Given the financial gains involved, threat actors are relentless in their pursuit of profit, regardless of the industry. Mariappan highlights the importance of recognising the value of the information held in various sectors. Intellectual property, such as in the entertainment industry, and the valuable research conducted in education institutions make these sectors potential targets for cyber attacks.
Consequences of Data Breaches
The repercussions of a data breach or incident go far beyond financial losses. Mariappan highlights that leaked information, such as sensitive health data, can be used in punitive or discriminatory manners. Furthermore, the loss of customer trust and confidence can lead to a high churn rate, impacting an organisation’s credibility and profitability. Rebuilding lost credibility can take years, making prevention even more crucial.
The Rise of AI and Its Duality
In the midst of these escalating cyber threats, the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) offers both opportunities and risks. Mariappan perceives AI as a massive revolution, similar to the advent of the Internet. However, threat actors can also exploit AI to refine their phishing tactics. Yet, there is significant potential for leveraging AI in threat hunting, detection, and day-to-day business operations.
Leveraging AI for Cybersecurity
With the recognition of AI’s importance, Mariappan’s company has incorporated it into their platform, particularly in areas such as data protection and digital experience monitoring. They aim to provide their customers with the tools to safely utilise Generative AI to predict and prevent breaches.
United States: A Prominent Target
The United States stands out as a primary target for ransomware campaigns, given its population size, economic prominence, hybrid working environments, and military and geopolitical force. Its robust economy, presence of multinational corporations, major financial institutions, and critical infrastructure make it a lucrative target for threat actors aiming to breach sophisticated systems within the nation’s borders.
BlackCat Group: A Menace
Mariappan highlights the activities of the BlackCat Group, a sophisticated ransomware operation that has been active for the past couple of years. They employ various methods, including social engineering, phishing attacks, and exploiting known vulnerabilities, to infiltrate networks. Once inside, they deploy their ransomware payload, encrypting victims’ files. The group’s use of the Rust programming language makes their attacks efficient and compatible across platforms.
Mariappan went on to say,
“Black Cat is a sophisticated ransomware operation that has been active for the last couple of years.”
The ever-evolving threat landscape calls for robust cybersecurity measures and the responsible utilisation of AI.