Malware

Nuclear and Oil & Gas are Major Targets of Ransomware Groups in 2024

Experts warn of an alarming rise in ransomware operations targeting the energy sector, including nuclear facilities and related research entities.

Resecurity, Inc. (USA) protecting major Fortune 100 and government agencies globally has identified an alarming rise in ransomware operators targeting the energy sector, including nuclear facilities and related research entities. Over the last year, ransomware attackers have targeted energy installations in North America, Asia, and the European Union. In the EU, Handelsblatt reported that ransomware attacks targeting the energy sector more than doubled in 2022 over the previous year, with defenders recording 21 attacks through the past October.

Resecurity’s research delves deeper into unique ransomware trends cited by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in their recently published Intelligence Enterprise Homeland Threat Assessment. “Between January 2020 and December 2022, the number of known ransomware attacks in the United States increased by 47 percent,” according to the DHS report. The agency also noted that “ransomware attackers extorted at least $449.1 million globally during the first half of 2023 and are expected to have their second most profitable year.”

The alarming escalation of ransomware attacks against the energy sector and critical infrastructure is a trend that cannot be ignored. With at least a dozen sophisticated groups such as BlackCat/ALPHV, Medusa, and LockBit 3.0, among others, intensifying their focus on these high-stakes targets, the threat landscape is becoming increasingly dangerous. These threat actors are not acting in isolation; they are supported by a flourishing ecosystem of underground access brokers and tool developers who provide the necessary leverage to infiltrate and exploit these essential systems in critical infrastrucruee. The collaboration between these groups and individual actors is a clear indicator of the strategic importance placed on the energy sector, which is perceived as a goldmine for high-value data and maximum ransom payouts exceeding $5,000,000 (million) in some cases. Resecurity uncovered several episodes of attacks against nuclear operators – area of major concern for national security.

Looking ahead to 2024, Resecurity analysts envision a significant growth in targeted cyber threats, particularly with ransomware groups increasingly prioritizing high-value targets within the energy sector and its supply chain.

Let me suggest reading the report “Ransomware Attacks Against The Energy Sector On The Rise – Nuclear And Oil & Gas Are Major Targets In 2024,” it includes evidence that nuclear energy firms are becoming priority targets for extortion groups.

Follow me on Twitter: @securityaffairs and Facebook and Mastodon

Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Ransomware)

Pierluigi Paganini

Pierluigi Paganini is member of the ENISA (European Union Agency for Network and Information Security) Threat Landscape Stakeholder Group and Cyber G7 Group, he is also a Security Evangelist, Security Analyst and Freelance Writer. Editor-in-Chief at "Cyber Defense Magazine", Pierluigi is a cyber security expert with over 20 years experience in the field, he is Certified Ethical Hacker at EC Council in London. The passion for writing and a strong belief that security is founded on sharing and awareness led Pierluigi to find the security blog "Security Affairs" recently named a Top National Security Resource for US. Pierluigi is a member of the "The Hacker News" team and he is a writer for some major publications in the field such as Cyber War Zone, ICTTF, Infosec Island, Infosec Institute, The Hacker News Magazine and for many other Security magazines. Author of the Books "The Deep Dark Web" and “Digital Virtual Currency and Bitcoin”.

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