The news came down the pipeline today that the victim of a recent cyberattack paid more than US$10M to liberate their computer network from the ransomware attack they experienced last week.
That’s a lot of cash.
But what if it wasn’t?
What if some of these companies that are “victims” of cyberattacks are just completely full of crap? Not saying this unnamed company is; they’re just the one in the news right now.
Give me a little latitude here for a minute, okay?
Fictional company XYZ does their job for decades. They make enough money to keep their employees paid and their business going and growing, but at a slow pace. They’re publicly traded, so they have a board of directors and investors to whom they must answer.
Something happens and the board and investors want to see some real return. So XYZ colludes with hackers to attack them. Their internal network is taken hostage, supply lines are shut down, production grinds to a halt.
Suddenly there is a shortage of XYZ’s entire product line. Product prices skyrocket… even for XYZ’s competition.
A few days or even a week passes. “Reluctantly,” XYZ pays the multimillion ransom. The network is freed up and work starts back up. But prices stay high while XYZ comes back online with all they do.
Behind the scenes, though, half or more of that ransom is returned to XYZ via alternate channels such as offshore accounts or shell companies or the like. The hackers who helped them get the other half and know they will basically never have to face charges because authorities are terrible at catching them especially since these attacks are typically multinational in nature.
So XYZ gets a big chunk of their ransom back, they reap the dividends of the price spike that will continue for a while longer, and they benefit from the outpouring of support from the public as they are the proverbial “victim.” Sure, the whole scheme may not show an overall profit immediately… but eventually.
I mean, what if??