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US to treat ransomware attacks with same priority as terrorism

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Colonial pipeline

The U.S. Department of Justice is elevating investigations of ransomware attacks

The department now plans to treat ransomware attacks to a similar priority as terrorism in the wake of the Colonial Pipeline hack and mounting damage caused by cyber criminals.

Internal guidance sent to U.S. attorney’s offices across the America stated information about ransomware investigations in the field should be centrally coordinated with a recently created task force in Washington.

“It’s a specialised process to ensure we track all ransomware cases regardless of where it may be referred in this country,”

said John Carlin, principle associate deputy attorney general at the Justice Department.

The latest development comes after a cyber criminal group which is understood to be based in Russia, penetrated the pipeline operator on the U.S. East Coast, locking its systems and demanding a ransom.

The cyber hack caused a shutdown lasting several days, led to a spike in gas prices, panic buying and localised fuel shortages in the southeast. 

Hackers were paid a ransom, Colonial Pipeline boss confirms

The boss of one of the United States’ biggest fuel pipelines says his company paid a $USD 4.4 million ransom to hackers.

The Colonial Pipeline experienced a cyberattack that shut down its nationwide network on 7 May. As such, millions of barrels of petrol, diesel and jet fuel stopped flowing.

Joseph Blount is the CEO of the Colonial Pipeline. He told the Wall Street Journal the ransom was a “highly controversial decision”. But he conceded it “was the right thing to do for the country”.

The 8,900 kilometre pipeline carries 2.5 million barrels a day, or 45 percent of the east coast’s supply of critical fuel supplies.

“I will admit that I wasn’t comfortable seeing money go out the door to people like this,”

Mr Blount explained

However, President Biden believes there was evidence that Russian hackers were involved in the attack.

“So far there is no evidence from our intelligence people that Russia is involved. Although, there is evidence that the actors, ransomware is in Russia, they have some responsibility to deal with this.”

The hackers are from DarkSide, who allegedly steal from larger corporations and give the ransom funds to charity.

The group released a statement on the dark web. “From today, we introduce moderation and check each company that our partners want to encrypt to avoid social consequences in the future.”

After the cyberattack, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to strengthen cybersecurity defences across the US.

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U.S. planes told to land immediately as outage spreads

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Major U.S. carriers including American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines issued ground stops on Friday morning.

They are blaming communication issues, less than an hour after Microsoft resolved its cloud services outage that impacted several low-cost carriers.
It was not immediately clear whether the call to keep flights from taking off were related to the earlier Microsoft cloud outage. Apart from American and Delta, UAL and Allegiant Air too grounded flights.
The FAA did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
Frontier said earlier that a “major Microsoft technical outage” hit its operations temporarily, while SunCountry said a third-party vendor affected its booking and check-in facilities, without naming the company.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said the department was monitoring the flight cancellation and delay issues at Frontier, adding that the agency will hold the company and all other airlines “to their responsibilities to meet the needs of passengers”.
Frontier cancelled 147 flights on Thursday and delayed 212 others, according to data tracker FlightAware. 45% of Allegiant aircrafts were delayed, while Sun Country delayed 23% flights, the data showed. The companies did not give details on the number of flights impacted.
Microsoft said its outage started at about 6 pm ET on Thursday, with a subset of its customers experiencing issues with multiple Azure services in the Central U.S. region as several countries reported massive IT disturbances. “There are delays to check-in and flight operations had to be cancelled until 10:00 am (0800 GMT),” the spokeswoman said, adding however that she could not say when they would resume

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Major Microsoft outage shuts down airlines, news and cloud servers worldwide

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A widespread Microsoft outage is affecting Australia’s supermarkets, banks and telecommunications companies.

A widespread Microsoft outage is affecting Australia’s supermarkets, banks, telecommunications companies.

There are also reports of outages in Japan and the United States.

The ongoing widespread outage is reportedly related to US-based cybersecurity provider CrowdStrike. Its ‘Falcon sensor’ is installed on many business computers to gather security data.

In a statement to Ticker News, StickmanCyber said:

“Multiple StickmanCyber security engineering and our 24×7/365 security operations teams across the country support reports that this outage is related to a CrowdStrike update. 
 
“It is our understanding that any business running versions 7.15 and 7.16 are affected by the outage, but 7.17 seems to be ok. We are waiting on official advisory from CrowdStrike on these findings but doing our best to help affected customers. It’s a lesson to always update your software, but obviously this is an extreme example. IT security tools are all designed to ensure that companies can continue to operate in the worst-case scenario of a data breach, so to be the root cause of a global IT outage is an unmitigated disaster.
 
“Crowdstrike support is offering a workaround to customers. It claims users may be able to fix the issue by booting windows in safe mode or in the Windows Recovery Environment and deleting a file named “C-00000291*.sys”.   

“CrowdStrike is aware of reports of crashes on Windows hosts related to the Falcon sensor,” the company said in a statement on its website.

“Symptoms include hosts experiencing a bugcheck\blue screen error related to the Falcon sensor. Our engineering teams are actively working to resolve this issue and there is no need to open a support ticket.

“Status updates will be posted below [on the Microsoft websit€0 as we have more information to share, including when the issue is resolved.”

Laptops down

Thousands of users across the world reported problems with Microsoft services to Downdector.com, a website that tracks service disruptions.

Microsoft laptops suddenly restarted across Australia on Friday afternoon.

Outage website Downdetector shows issues across companies including NAB, Bendigo Bank, Telstra, CBA, Google.

Microsoft response

As users take to social media to complain, Microsoft reported a service outage for its Microsoft 365 apps and services, affecting businesses and users across the world.

“We’re investigating an issue impacting users ability to access various Microsoft 365 apps and services,” Microsoft 365 Status said on X early Friday.

Microsoft didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment.

Frontier airlines

 

The outage forced low-cost airline Frontier to cancel some flights. “Our systems are currently impacted by a Microsoft outage, which is also affecting other companies,” Frontier said in a statement. “We appreciate your patience.” The carrier said it would offer refunds to affected passengers.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Frontier asked it to pause the airline’s departures across the U.S. Thursday night. The ground stop was later lifted. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It said it is “observing a positive trend in service availability” as it continues to mitigate the problem.

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Twisters takes the box office by storm as Disney’s Captain America mirrors recent U.S. political events

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Sequels, nostalgia, and the changing face of cinema

The recent surprise hit Twisters has taken the box office by storm, defying expectations and cementing itself as a standout success in a summer crowded with high-profile releases. This sequel to the 1996 classic Twister has captivated audiences with its blend of thrilling storm-chasing action and heartfelt storytelling.

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