What’s More Dangerous Than Ransomware? Jackware.

In Sunday’s full-page editorial, The New York Times dissects the state of cyber crime today — citing the rise in ransomware and referencing the recent Colonial Pipeline attack that triggered a fuel shortage (and widespread panic) across the southeastern U.S. The ability of cyber criminals to “seriously disrupt economies” and “breach strategically critical enterprises or agencies,” the Times aptly noted, “also makes them a formidable potential threat to national security.”

This is where we are in 2021. With ransomware, networks and data are held hostage through encryption, unlocked only once you’ve paid up. But as the Colonial Pipeline incident so strikingly demonstrates, there’s another side to what the Times calls “a new and menacing form of organized crime” and “war that must be fought and won” — and that’s jackware. 

Jackware is malicious software (malware) that targets the computing power and connectivity embedded in physical things. And this is what makes it so dangerous: its ability to damage, shut down or seize control of not just the smart devices and systems that we hold in our hands, install in our homes or run in our cars but also larger-scale equipment, machinery, and infrastructure — like Colonial’s 5,500 miles of pipeline that carry much of the East Coast’s fuel supply. The company reportedly shut down the pipeline as a precautionary measure, but the move — and the repercussions in the days that followed — shows the enormity of what’s at stake. Jackware threatens to disrupt the Industrial Internet of Things; manufacturing, electric and water utilities, oil and gas companies, mass transit, hospitals and health care systems and other core functions are all vulnerable.

Many cybersecurity solutions focus on detection, response and recovery, mitigating and/or containing the damage after a hack occurs. Blue Ridge Networks focuses on stopping the hack from occurring in the first place. Our LinkGuard solution separates physical devices and machines from both the internet and the enterprise network that might be the attack vector for jackware — locking down data streams and isolating and containing your core data.

Cyber crime is becoming increasingly sophisticated, cyber criminals more and more creative. The big hits get the headlines, but it’s the small- and medium-sized enterprises that are often hit the hardest. 

Learn more at blueridgenetworks.com/linkguard