Ransomware Attacks Surge, Disrupting World’s Largest Bank Operations
November 11, 2023
The Growing Threat of Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly common, posing new challenges for businesses and organizations in an era where almost all activities rely heavily on the internet. Technological advancements, open banking trends, and the proliferation of remote transactions have underscored a pressing need for robust cybersecurity measures.
Inadequate responses to these changes can potentially threaten entire systems. A case in point is a recent ransomware attack on the world’s largest bank, which resulted in notable disruptions in “U.S. Treasury market settlements”. This event serves as an example of the broad-scale disruptions that could occur.
An Overview of the Incident
So, what happened exactly? Apparently, LockBit, a notorious cybercrime syndicate linked to Russia, infiltrated the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), one of the world’s largest banks by assets. Despite this intrusion, business operations continued, but it caused many Treasury transactions to go unclear, resulting in rerouted deals.
According to Bloomberg, some trades were even “delivered across Manhattan on a USB stick.” Due to the intensity of this cyber assault, ICBC found itself relaying “crucial settlement details to affected parties by means of a courier bearing a thumb drive.”
Response from the US Treasury Department
The U.S. Treasury Department confirmed awareness of this cybersecurity challenge. According to a spokesperson, they are maintaining regular communication with significant stakeholders within the financial sector and federal regulators while vigilantly monitoring developments.
A Pattern In The Making?
LockBit is not encountering such difficulties for the first time. They have been implicated previously in attacks against Boeing (BA). Recent ransoms and attacks have also been observed with regards to Clorox (CLX), Caesars (CZR), and MGM Resorts (MGM).
The latest cybersecurity incident involving the ICBC, seen as a “systemically important institution” by the Financial Stability Board, is likely to remain under the intense scrutiny of the wider financial sector due to its substantial impact on U.S. Treasury’s liquidity. Data from Corvus Insurance shows that there has been approximately a double increase in ransomware attacks during 2023’s first three quarters compared to the same period in 2022.