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Profit-driven cyberattacks are becoming frighteningly routine

Profit-driven cyberattacks are becoming frighteningly routine, with more and more industries facing the threat of having their vital information stolen and little recourse beyond paying a ransom.

Why it matters: Such attacks may be motivated by profit, but as recent events have shown, can cause significant disruption to vital industries.

Driving the news:

  • JBS and Colonial Pipeline have both confirmed they paid ransoms after recent high-profile attacks, while cities and hospitals have also forked over payments to regain control of their data.
  • Electronic Arts suffered a data breach that included source code for some of its games.

What they're saying:

  • "We think the cyber threat is increasing almost exponentially," FBI director Christopher Wray said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

The big picture: Two factors are responsible for accelerating the ransomware problem. First, the rise of cryptocurrency makes it easy for data hijackers to collect their ransom. Second, many companies simply can't afford to risk losing their data.

Yes, but: Experts say the key to slowing the trend is turning the tables on attackers through collective action.

  • "The key to disrupting ransomware is disrupting the ransomware supply chain," Gurvais Grigg, an FBI veteran who is now public sector CTO at crypto firm Chainalysis, said on the Axios Re:Cap podcast.
  • The Justice Department said last week it plans to start addressing cyberattacks in much the way it approaches the fight against terrorism.

Go deeper: Ransomware business achieves critical mass

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