4 July 2021
The rise of ransomware has been a major problem for business. The government and law enforcement have traditionally cared little about scams, hackings or identity thefts. I have tried to report these, giving phone numbers of the scammers call back numbers after having proved that the scam number answers in order to demonstrate that they were the Tax Office or whatever. No interest at all. Eventually a government Scamwatch website has been developed. (There is a nice irony in the title as it watches rather than acts).
But scamming has progressed to Ransomware, where a computer system is hacked and huge sum of money demanded if the business is not to be either rendered permanently dysfunctioned or have it all its information shared to a competitor, and then still not function. The ransoms are usually paid, though no one actually likes to admit this. The fact that JBS Meat processing stopped in the whole world, and the whole East Coast of the USA could not buy petrol has stimulated law enforcement to take an interest.
Presumably, hacking and viruses are a continuation of the goodies and baddies in the programming world, with both working on the same computers and programs. The fact that it can be used as part of ongoing war against another country now seems relevant, with smaller countries seeking to take down larger ones. It seems that some hackers are nation-based, so they are termed privateers, after the pirates who actually worked for a country, like Francis Drake, who famously stole Spanish galleon gold (stolen from the South Americans) for England and was knighted for it.
As a safe computer system has to be developed, marketing and implemented, there is always a time lag which must surely help the hackers. Modest small businesses cannot be at the cutting edge of software systems, so will always be vulnerable- the only hope is that law enforcement gets serious about screening for miscreants and tracks them down. If they can screen every Facebook post, and act quickly there may be some hope, but I am not sure what difference encryption makes to all this.
This story is in a lot of papers this weekend in slightly different forms. Here is the SMH one: