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FBI: Ransomware Actors Use Financial Events to Extort Victims

Attackers research financial information about an organization and threaten to disclose it if they don't receive ransom quickly.

The FBI reports that ransomware attackers are likely to use significant financial events, such as mergers and acquisitions, to target and extort victim organizations.

In a private industry notification released today, officials explained that ransomware actors research publicly available information, such as stock valuation, as well as material nonpublic information ahead of an attack. If their victim does not quickly pay the ransom, the attackers threaten to publish this information, which could potentially cause investor backlash, they said.

"Ransomware actors are targeting companies involved in significant, time-sensitive financial events to incentivize ransom payments by these victims," the FBI reports. Impending events that may affect a company's stock value, such as announcements, mergers, or acquisitions, encourage attackers to target a specific network or change their extortion timeline, they add.

Officials list multiple cases in which attackers were interested in stock share price or threatened to leak data to the Nasdaq stock exchange. Between March and July 2020, at least three publicly traded US companies actively involved in M&A were victims of ransomware during their negotiations, according to the FBI. Of these three, two were under private negotiations.

Read more details here.

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