Protection Rings Hits Cyber Space – No More Wild West Here!

Well, I think it’s safe to say that cyberspace can no longer be viewed as the wild west. I would suggest that the new analogy would be the Roaring ’20s. Remember, we had the growth of the Mafia that began to rule like the kings of city states. You had Al Capone running whisky during the Prohibition Era. You had different family “Dons” owning various government officials. And you had Protectionist rings demanding extortion from various businesses so that nothing “bad” would happen to them.

I bring this up because there’s a story in the Associated Press titled “TAKE DOWN: HACKERS LOOKING TO SHUT DOWN FACTORIES FOR PAY” which talks about how attackers are starting to get Ransomware inserted into businesses and then blackmailing those businesses for protection money otherwise … well, you know ….

And don’t forget that HBO was raided and now they are being blackmailed for cash otherwise all their documents will be released.

Let’s face it, with the absolute lack of an integrated set of international laws and the enforcement of those laws across nation borders, this type of activity is going to only grow and expand. I’m actually surprised that it hasn’t happened sooner. Remember that earlier this year, a group called “The Shadow Brokers” took credit for the Ransomware attack which was the release of the Petya attack and the WannaCry attack. You could almost draw the parallel between them and the reknowned mafia assassins called “Murder, Inc”.

The parallels are there as well with the media vaunting of the criminal kingpins. They seemed to glorify them at that time. Now? Well, you have the story from yesterday about the Cybersecurity researcher Marcus Hutchins who figured out WannaCry but is now in jail for cyber crimes himself. I’m wondering who this generation’s version of Al Capone and Bugsy Segal is going to be.

How did it all end for those guys? Well, as usual, it came down to money. It wasn’t murders that brought Al Capone down, it was the fact that the US Government wasn’t getting their cut (Capone was hiding his taxes). Sure, there was moral outrage about the murders and the blackmail and the booze running and the prostitute rings but, at the end of the day, it’s always about money.

Maybe that’s what has to happen here. Maybe, with the ability to move money around the globe, it will come down to governments wanting to get their fair share of the taxes from this ill-gotten booty. Someone emptied the bank account that the WannaCry ransomware was set up to collect. Did that person pay taxes?

I wrote a blog earlier this year titled “Hacking as a Service – Cloud Services Taken To The Extreme” where I talked about how there were the parallels between the Pirates of old being used by the various Nations of the time. But, as with all things, evolution occurs and we are now seeing cyber criminals going for big bucks. The “Pirates” that I talked about are now more like “Murder, Inc.” and the line is blurring between who is good and who is bad.

No, this is going to continue until the national governments of the world get together and create AND ENFORCE a ubiquitous set of cyber laws. Until then, protect yourself and get insurance (both real and “protection”)….

… Hey, If you pay protection money, does that mean that they will protect you against other Malware or attacks? …

Hmm!

Hope that helps …

Neil

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