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Up to 1,500 firms could be affected by Friday’s cyberattack: CEO

By: Aljazeera

Between 800 and 1,500 businesses around the world have been affected by a ransomware attack centered on US information technology firm Kaseya, its chief executive said.
Fred Voccola, the Florida-based company’s CEO, said in an interview on Monday that it was hard to estimate the precise impact of Friday’s attack because those hit were mainly customers of Kaseya’s customers.
Kaseya is a company that provides software tools to IT outsourcing shops: companies that typically handle back-office work for companies too small or modestly resourced to have their own tech departments.
One of those tools was subverted on Friday, allowing the hackers to paralyze hundreds of businesses on all five continents. Although most of those affected have been small concerns – like dentists’ offices or accountants – the disruption has been felt more keenly in Sweden, where hundreds of supermarkets had to close because their cash registers were inoperative, or New Zealand, where schools and kindergartens were knocked offline.
The hackers who claimed responsibility for the breach have demanded $70m to restore all the affected businesses’ data, although they have indicated a willingness to temper their demands in private conversations with a cybersecurity expert and with Reuters.
“We are always ready to negotiate,” a representative of the hackers told Reuters earlier Monday.
The representative, who spoke via a chat interface on the hackers’ website, did not provide their name.
Voccola refused to say whether he was ready to take the hackers up on the offer.
“I can’t comment ‘yes’, ‘no’, or ‘maybe’,” he said when asked whether his company would talk to or pay the hackers. “No comment on anything to do with negotiating with terrorists in any way.”
The topic of ransom payments has become increasingly fraught as ransomware attacks become increasingly disruptive – and lucrative.
Voccola said he had spoken to officials at the White House, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Homeland Security about the breach but declined to say what they had told him about paying or negotiating.
On Sunday the White House said it was checking to see whether there was any “national risk” posed by the ransomware outbreak but Voccola said that – so far – he was not aware of any nationally important organizations being hit.

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