Critical U.S. infrastructure is increasingly being targeted by hackers

A robust infrastructure is often the biggest differentiator between first world countries and developing ones. 

The infrastructure in the United States has been crumbling for decades as politicians struggle to get Congressional support to spend the trillions of dollars needed to modernize our electric, transportation, and sewage grids. 

Related: Ransomware Gangs Are Shifting Their Attacks to Smaller Companies

But first world infrastructure is facing a much scarier threat than just time and neglect. Hackers are also targeting critical infrastructure in the U.S., and in recent weeks they have been particularly busy with their attacks. 

This week alone hospitals across the U.S. had to divert ambulances from their emergency rooms due to a ransomware attack; the North Texas Municipal Water District started investigating a suspected ransomware attack; real estate services company Fidelity National Financial was also hit by an attack, preventing some customers from paying their mortgages for several days.

Ransomware attack against critical infrastructure has increased in 2023, according to Axios which spoke to Allan Liska, a ransomware expert at Record Future. 

There have been 317 publicly reported ransomware attacks against health care entities so far this year compared to 245 all of last year, according to Liska. School attacks have also increased, with 243 publicly reported attacks in 2023 compared to 189 total incidents last year. 

“We are seeing an uptick and that is normal for this time of year,” Liska said. “I think it’s a bigger [post-Thanksgiving] uptick than we normally see.”

Earlier this year, a high-profile cyberattack against, MGM Resorts  (MGM) – Get Free Report threw the Las Vegas Strip into a state of chaos. The ransomware attack shut down everything from hotel reservation services to ATMs to slot machines at the MGM properties.

MGM says the attack negatively affected its third quarter results to the tune of about $100 million. 

Its rival, Caesars Entertainment  (CZR) – Get Free Report paid tens of millions of dollars to hackers who had performed a similar attack against the company just days prior. 

Signs of the growing problem were apparent earlier this year. 

The number of ransomware victims in March were nearly double the number from the previous year, according to a study from Black Kite, a Boston-based third-party cyber risk intelligence company.

The report showed that hackers targeted the manufacturing industry the most, followed by the professional, scientific and technical services industry, according to a report by Black Kite that analyzed ransomware attacks from April 1, 2022 through March 31, 2023. Educational services received 6.1% of the attacks.

The U.S. was the number one targeted country, accounting for 43% of victim organizations, followed by the U.K. and Germany (4.4%).

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