November 8, 2023
Earlier this month Boeing was hit by a cyberattack that impacted its global services and distribution processes.
While limited information was available on the nature and scale of the attack, the corporation was listed on ransomware group LockBit’s “victims list,” with the group threatening to leak a “tremendous amount” of data from the aerospace company if it didn't pay a ransom.
The listing has now been taken down, though the incident is just the latest in a series of targeted attacks taking down major corporations, with multiple systems at MGM sites across the U.S. taken down in September and a number of U.K. companies including Boots and British Airways targeted in June.
With the uptake of connected devices continuing to rise across industries and with the sophistication of attacks increasing, incidents such as these are set to become commonplace. In this landscape, the need to safeguard against bad actors is brought into sharp relief.
Tony Pietrocola, president of AI-enabled SOC AgileBlue, says the threat to major corporations has always been there, though the seeming proliferation of attacks in recent years is due in part to companies declaring incidents more readily than before.
“More and more large companies are properly declaring what happened out of fear, new SEC guidelines, the latest executive order, insurance, social media, etc,” said Pietrocola. “Large businesses have huge amounts of valuable data – such as customer information, financial records, and intellectual property. They also have complex networks and systems, which can make them more difficult to secure and a pleasure for hackers to disrupt.
“I will say this – with the advent of new technologies like AI, we are seeing more sophisticated attacks and it is obvious these large companies are just as susceptible.”
While the vulnerabilities of both large- and small-scale companies may be similar, the potential impacts of the systems being compromised varies greatly, with Pietrocola saying the Boeing incident is a “class A-type disaster.”
“Not every company has the overarching scope of a Boeing, but they all have similar risks,” he said. “The biggest thing we are seeing is disruption of operations, especially providers of military equipment, supply chains and critical infrastructure. Think about the life-and-death consequences of a Boeing cyberattack. Think about the financial devastation with the MGM/Caesars cyber-attacks. They could all be catastrophic.
“With a company like Boeing, there are huge national security implications and there are hundreds of companies that are suppliers to Boeing that could also be hacked via their supply chain attack.”
Innovators are working to create safeguards against these attacks, though as technological innovations continue to emerge, cybercriminals are able to continuously adapt their methods.
While designing a fool-proof solution is some way away, Pietrocola says a layered security approach is “critical.”
“Companies need more security and monitoring around [connected] devices,” he said. “A few best practices companies need to adopt include: segmenting networks, ensuring any open source used in IoT – and there is a ton – is understood, patched and the risk is remediated. All firmware and software need to be patched and updated regularly.
“Further, data needs to be encrypted and the company needs 24x7 monitoring on the segmented networks, including who is accessing the networks and what they are doing.”
Additionally, Pietrocola points to the need for companies to be monitoring potential vulnerabilities across their supply chains.
“Companies need to protect against supply chain attacks,” he said. “A large company may not be the weak link in the chain, one of their smaller providers could open the door. Are they monitoring their supply chain for the weakest links? The majority of companies do not!”
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