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The Top 10 News Stories Of 2020 (So Far)

Rick Whiting

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a steep economic downturn, the IT industry’s response to the social justice movement, an abandoned corporate takeover attempt, a possible spin-off, new technologies and old technology rivalries. It has been a very tumultuous 2020 – so far.

3. Ransomware Attacks Escalate Against Solution Providers And MSPs

A series of ransomware attacks in 2019 highlighted a disturbing trend: Cyber attackers were increasingly targeting managed service providers (MSPs) – including such big names as ConnectWise and IT By Design – and their remote monitoring and management tools as a way to attack the IT systems of MSP clients.

Ransomware attacks – especially the use of MSPs as an attack vector – continue in 2020 as one of the biggest issues in the channel. Just last month multiple DXC Technology customers had their IT systems taken down following a ransomware attack against a DXC subsidiary that sells insurance industry applications.

“This is absolutely the No. 1 issue facing the channel,” said David Powell, a longtime MSP who recently joined MSP security provider Perch Security from MSP superstar Corsica Technologies, following the attack against DXC. “MSPs are not taking this security issue seriously enough and as a result they are leaving their customers open to the downside risk of a breach.”

In early 2020 the Albany (N.Y.) International Airport paid a five-figure ransom to restore data after getting hit with Sodinokibi ransomware during the holidays through its managed service provider, Schenectady-based LogicalNet (whose own management services network had been breached).

Some big names in the IT industry have been victims of Maze ransomware attacks in 2020. In April IT services and systems integrator giant Cognizant disclosed that its network was infected with Maze ransomware that encrypted servers and disrupted some of the company’s work-from-home capabilities and caused service disruptions for some clients. And In June Xerox – which plans to begin providing IT services to customer this year – was hit by Maze ransomware operators who claimed to have stolen more than 100 Gb of files.

The biggest ransomware attack this year came in February against facilities management firm ISS World, forcing the company to switch off its networks and leaving hundreds of thousands of employees without access to their IT systems or email. It took more than a month for ISS World to regain control of most of its IT infrastructure – with recovery and mitigation costs reaching between $75 million to $112.4 million – although it will be the end of the year before the company finishes restoring and rebuilding its IT systems.

There have been successes in the fight. In February CRN reported a case where ConnectWise, Huntress Labs and Datto teamed up and worked with the FBI to thwart a hacker – a former MSP systems engineer – who was selling an MSP’s access credentials.

 
Rick Whiting

Rick Whiting has been with CRN since 2006 and is currently a feature/special projects editor. Whiting manages a number of CRN’s signature annual editorial projects including Channel Chiefs, Partner Program Guide, Big Data 100, Emerging Vendors, Tech Innovators and Products of the Year. He also covers the Big Data beat for CRN.

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