A major ransomware attack on a technology firm has left other businesses scrambling.




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According to a cybersecurity organization, Canada is one of 17 countries that have been attacked. Businesses around the world scrambled Saturday to contain a ransomware attack that had immobilized their computer networks, a scenario exacerbated in the United States by offices that were understaffed at the start of the Fourth of July vacation weekend.

It is unknown how many organizations have been targeted by demands to pay a ransom in order to reactivate their systems. However, some cybersecurity experts believe the attack on Kaseya clients could be one of the most widespread ransomware operations ever. According to ESET, victims have been reported in at least 17 countries, including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Kenya, and Germany.

It comes after a rash of high-profile attacks in recent months that have fueled diplomatic tensions between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin over whether Russia has become a refuge for cybercriminal gangs. Biden said Saturday that he didn’t know for sure who was behind the attack, but that he had asked US intelligence agencies to look into it.

“If it is with Russia’s knowledge and/or as a result of Russia, I assured Putin we will respond,” Biden added. “We’re not sure. The original assumption was that it was not the Russian government.” The REvil gang, a prominent Russian-speaking ransomware syndicate, looks to be behind the Kaseya attack, utilizing its network-management package as a conduit to spread the ransomware through cloud-service providers, according to cybersecurity experts.

“The number of victims here is already over a thousand and will likely go into the tens of thousands,” said Silverado Policy Accelerator research group cybersecurity expert Dmitri Alperovitch. “In terms of effect, no other ransomware campaign comes close.” According to SVT, the country’s official broadcaster, the majority of Coop’s 800 stores in Sweden were unable to open because their cash registers were not operating. The Swedish State Railways as well as a major local pharmacy chain were also impacted.