Robert Cattanach

Expert: Latest Cyber Attack “Ominous”

Crime, News | June 28, 2017 By:

Another round of ransomware attacks is underway, threatening everything from utility power grids to pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. and shipping conglomerate Maersk. The current attacks resemble the massive, worldwide attacks of earlier this year, demanding payment in bitcoin to unlock encrypted files

Robert Cattanach is a partner at the law firm Dorsey & Whitney. He has previously worked as a trial attorney for the United States Department of Justice and was also special counsel to the Secretary of the Navy. Today he practices in the areas of regulatory litigation, including cybersecurity and data breaches, privacy and telecommunications, civil and criminal enforcement proceedings and international Regulatory Compliance.

He says this attack should not be ignored by the US, Canada, and other nations, because it could mean something bigger is on the horizon.

“Widespread disruption is being reported as yet another ransomware attack approaches epidemic proportions,” said Cattanach. “System outages are being reported ranging from the Ukraine to Denmark, including disruption of the power grid in the Ukraine and attacks on shipping colossus Moller-Maersk.  Cyber experts believe the software attack is a variant of a ransomware program GoldenEye.  Given its rapid spread, it appears to be automatically self-perpetuating once it enters a system without further intervention from the hacker or system operator.”

Cattanach added: “This latest attack seems especially ominous since it confirms that the sophistication of cyber criminals continues to evolve rapidly, and the attack appears to be part of a coordinated probe of system defenses and detection capabilities in anticipation of continued and increasingly aggressive intrusions.  The lack of reported monetary gain from the most recent similar attack – WannaCry – also raises the question of the true motive of the attackers.  It also highlights the reality that no sector of industry or government is immune from attack, and underscores the lack of any ability to coordinate defenses cross-border, raising again the question of the proper role of government in protecting its citizens and commerce.”

Block Tribune posed some questions regarding the ongoing attacks.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: Do you believe these attacks are random cabals, or are they driven by national governments?

ROBERT CATTANACH: Actually, neither. These are likely well-organized criminal syndicates, some portions of which may also have ongoing relationships with nation state entities

BLOCK TRIBUNE: What potential problems from these continuing attacks should be keeping us up at night?

ROBERT CATTANACH: Their persistence, creativity, and growing application virtually guarantee more attacks with more serious consequences

BLOCK TRIBUNE: Are decentralized blockchains a good damage control preventative against these types of attacks?

ROBERT CATTANACH: Blockchain technology can be very effective, but is application to cyber security is only in the formative stages

BLOCK TRIBUNE: Should certain nations or regions be somehow isolated from the Internet at some level?

ROBERT CATTANACH: As attractive as that approach might be, it is probably unworkable. The only effective way to up our game against cybercriminals is through robust collaboration among industry and the governments of trusted nations.