Why hackers shed down the supermarket and gas station

What happened?
What happens in such a hacking attack?

Hackers often use ransomware during an attack. Thats a program that makes all files on your computer unusable. After that, the attackers will let you know they want to lift that again. But only if you pay them a lot of money.

In this case, the hackers came in through a system that companies use to manage computers remotely. Thats not always the case, sometimes attackers manage to spread a virus by mail as well. Often an employee clicks a link and accidentally installs software that allows criminals to take over your computer.

In other cases, the security of a company is as leak as a basket. Then theres a data breach. Due to a programming error, data from many people is on the streets. In this article, well explain what that means to you and if thats bad.

Why is this happening so often lately?

Sanne Maasakkers is a safety expert at FoxIt and explains that hacking has to do with money. Hacking is just a lot of money to make. Hackers encrypt business data and make it unusable. If you promise that information will be restored when companies pay, its easy to make money.

She explains that some companies cant help but pay. If you dont have a proper backup of your system, paying is the easiest solution.

And even companies that do have a backup arent safe for hackers who want to make money from them. We now see more and more that hackers not only encrypt everything, but also remove a piece of data. For example, they steal customer data or copies of passports. If you dont want to pay a ransom, hackers threaten to publish that info.

Why is that a problem?
If

an online system is flat, it has concrete consequences. Last weekends hacking attack, supermarkets in Sweden had to stay closed because the hackers flattened payment systems. The 800 supers cash registers stopped working.

Earlier something similar happened in America. There was a lot of people who couldnt refuel after a hacking attack. Attackers then broke into the largest oil transport company in the United States laid down key systems.

The company then closed all oil pipelines. And so 2.5 million fuel remained in the same place instead of going to petrol stations. As a result, the petrol pumps had to be closed as there was too little fuel for all people who wanted to refuel.

Hackers demanded ransom in exchange for unlocking the companys data. The oil transport company eventually paid about 4 million euros to get back into the computer systems that were laid down.

What can you do about it?

Hackers are constantly finding new tricks to enter systems. Its hard to act against them. Still, the government and companies try to do that. For example, they invest in ethical hackers. Those are people trying to detect system errors. They try to prevent a company from being hacked. An ethical hacker searches for errors in data systems, notifies them and fixes the leak afterwards. Thats why you always need to install a new update, says Maasakkers. Such a new update includes a recovery feature, which ensures that the security hole is closed again.

A group of Dutch ethical hackers tried that in the most recent major attack. They discovered a leak in the companys program that led other computer systems. Then they made an update to close the gap, but they didnt work out in time.