Hackers recently sent a ransom note to Kent Commercial Services, a company that is owned by the Kent County Council in the UK. They demanded to be paid an 800K GBP, which is around $1 million, ransom in Bitcoin or they would leak private data online.
KCS Did Not Pay the Ransom
According to a local media report, the hackers managed to encrypt a huge portion of data and systems owned by Kent Commercial Services Group (KCS) on April 2. However, KCS declined the hackers’ request. Eventually, some of the company’s data leaked online.
The CEO described the timing of the attack as “particularly malicious.” KCS has been one of the main suppliers of Personal Protective Equipment around the nation as the UK battles COVID19. The hackers did not leak any data regarding operations carried out by KCS. Besides that, no taxpayers’ data was leaked online. The company has said that it is doing its best to get all systems running again.
KCS is wholly owned by Kent County Council. However, it operates independently of the council. It has been around for almost 70 years and it has annual revenue of about £350 million, which is about $440 million.
The company has around 700 employees who deliver various services to emergency services, schools, and public authorities. Their services include educational and office supplies, gas and electricity supplies, and vehicle repair and servicing.
During the COVID19 outbreak, the company has undertaken additional roles that include the supply and distribution of PPE such as gloves, masks, and clothing to local health authorities and emergency services.
How the Hackers Gained Access to KCS Systems
According to the KCS representative, the hackers gained entry into KCS systems via a phishing email, which introduced a virus into the system. The virus made the whole system vulnerable to attack. Once they gained access to the network, they encrypted a huge amount of the data.
They later sent a ransom note demanding to be paid £800,000 ($1 million) in BTC and they would decrypt and repair the KCS systems. When Kent Commercial Services refused to pay the hackers, they leaked some of the data online. It mainly contained corporate and business information relating to KCS’s commercial dealings.
A Solution is in the Works
According to the KCS spokesman, their sister firm, Cantium business solutions, and other cyber-security experts that they have retained are working to restore all systems. Besides that, they are working to limit the impact that the criminal act will have on their suppliers, customers, and staff.
They are currently using some workarounds, which will ensure that their customers continue to receive their essential services during the COVID19 crisis. The company spokesman added that they would learn from the incident. He added that it took KCS about four weeks to restore most of their affected systems back online. He added that the remaining systems would be restored in about two weeks.
As hackers become more sophisticated and the allure of the anonymity of crypto makes it more enticing to target large companies for ransoms, more hacks will no doubt be attempted. For instance, hackers recently attempted to hack supercomputers across Europe to mine crypto. Authorities have been working hard to come up with tools that help them to track down criminals who wish to benefit from crypto. As these tools become more sophisticated, it will discourage criminals from finding a safe haven in crypto.
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