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Saturday, 20 March 2021 06:02

PC maker Acer appears to have been hit by Windows ransomware Featured

PC maker Acer appears to have been hit by Windows ransomware Image by Ronny Overhate from Pixabay

The world's sixth largest PC maker, Acer, appears to have been hit by the Windows REvil ransomware — aka Sodinokibi — and the Taiwan-based company says it has reported "recent abnormal situations observed" to law enforcement.

The French news site LeMagIT says the criminals behind the attack are demanding a ransom of US$50 million (A$64.7 million), the highest demanded to date in any attack.

Acer's products include desktop PCs, laptop PCs, tablets, servers, storage devices, virtual reality devices, displays, smartphones and peripherals, as well as gaming PCs and accessories under its Predator brand, according to Wikipedia.

The company is the world's sixth-largest PC vendor by unit sales as of January 2021, according to statistics from technology analyst firm Gartner.

Earlier this month, Acer reported net income of NT$6.03 billion (A$274 million) for the full-year 2020. Consolidate revenue for the year was NT$277.11 billion.

In a statement sent to a number of media organisations, Acer said it routinely monitored its IT systems, and most cyber attacks were "well defensed".

"Companies like us are constantly under attack, and we have reported recent abnormal situations observed to the relevant law enforcement and data protection authorities in multiple countries," the statement said.

"We have been continuously enhancing our cyber security infrastructure to protect business continuity and our information integrity.

"We urge all companies and organisations to adhere to cyber security disciplines and best practices, and be vigilant to any network activity abnormalities."

Screenshots of what appear to be financial documents taken by the attackers have been posted on the dark web site used by the REvil group.

Update, 22 March: Commenting on the incident James Bergl, regional vice-president of Sales for the ANZ operations of cyber security and data back-up company Datto, said: "The alleged ransomware attack on Acer, reported to have come from an exploit of a Microsoft Exchange Server is just another in a series of ongoing attacks related to the recent Microsoft Exchange breach by [the alleged Chinese actor] Hafnium.

"The security community continues to see active exploitation taking place in a widespread automated fashion as attackers get their hands on the chain of exploits required to complete this attack.

"This attack serves as a validation that if high-profile brands can get attacked, it can happen to anyone – business of all sizes are at risk. Vulnerabilities of this size are almost too complex for an organisation on its own to address.

"This is where it's important for businesses to lean on their partners, including MSPs and MSSPs that have in-house, specialist security expertise and skills to help identify threats much faster.

"Agility is critical in these uncertain times where cyber criminals are taking advantage of vulnerabilities to wreak mass havoc. But it's important for organisations to know they don't need to do this by themselves.

"Organisations must continue to adapt, be agile and responsive and get support from security specialists who can carry out independent security and vulnerability assessments and implement appropriate security measures as and when required."

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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