As nation states and other hacking groups increasingly use malicious software to block information or manipulate data, cybersecurity experts say that defense contractors are facing more aggressive attacks.
The experts also added that all the companies that are providing U.S. military and intelligence agencies with products and services connecting with cybersecurity since always have been facing espionage-motivated attacks.
But now they are also faced with overseas cyber assaults that main target is to use or even sabotage their operations.
“To put it bluntly, these are attacks that don’t try to steal secrets — but either try to block information or change information,” Peter Singer, a fellow at New America, told The Hill in an interview.
According to The Hill, the rise of ransomware attacks against defense contractors coincides with a rise in the use of ransomware in general. Attacks can spread even after the original target has been hit, hurting unintended victims.
“It is the fastest growing area of cybercrime,” Singer said.
The most recent victim of this kind of attack is Boeing, which was hit by the WannaCry virus late last month.
Both the U.S. and U.K. put the blame on North Korea for the attack, which for less than a week managed to rapidly infect hundreds of thousands of Windows devices in 150 countries last spring.
“Hackers actively search for doors that are already cracked open as they seek to infiltrate such systems,” said Varun Badhwar, the head of cybersecurity firm RedLock.
“People are looking for low-hanging fruit in terms of misconfigured systems as was in Boeing’s case,” Badhwar said, adding that the incident could’ve been easily avoided.
“The Microsoft patch was available for close to a year now,” he said.
The vice president of Boeing’s commercial airlines’ communications, Linda Mills, stated that the attack was quickly mitigated after their “cybersecurity operations center detected a limited intrusion of malware that affected a small number of systems.”
However, the good news for contractors is that they are better equipped and experience to face such attacks when compared to other companies because of the fact that they for a long time are being main cyber targets and they have an established information-sharing system.