Feds Warn of Ransomware Attacks Ahead of Labor Day

Though lots of people might be taking some time off over the Labor Day weekend, threat actors likely won’t — which means organizations should remain particularly vigilante about the potential for ransomware attacks, the federal government has warned.

Citing historical precedence, the FBI and CISA put out a joint cybersecurity advisory (PDF) Tuesday noting that ransomware actors often ambush organizations on holidays and weekends when offices are normally closed, making the upcoming three-day weekend a prime opportunity for threat activity.

While the agencies said they haven’t discovered “any specific threat reporting indicating a cyberattack will occur over the upcoming Labor Day holiday,” they are working on the idea that it’s better to be safe than sorry given that some major cyber-attacks have occurred over holidays and weekends during the past few months.

Indeed, attackers recently have taken advantage of the fact that many extend holiday weekends to four days or more, leaving a skeleton crew behind to oversee IT and network infrastructure and security, security professionals observed.

“Modern cyber criminals use some pretty sneaky tactics to maximize the damage and collect the most money per attack,” noted Erich Kron, security awareness advocate at security firm KnowBe4, in an e-mail to Threatpost.

Because organizations are generally short-staffed over holiday weekends, the swiftness with which they can respond to attacks that occur during these times “will be impacted,” he said.

That’s mainly because the absence of key personnel make it less likely that organizations that are targeted can quickly detect and contain attacks once launched, observed Chris Clements, vice president of solutions architecture at security firm Cerberus Sentinel.

“This additional time gives attackers the ability to exfiltrate more sensitive data or lock up more computers with ransomware than they otherwise might have been able to,” he said in an email to Threatpost.

History of Holiday Attacks

The Ransomware Threat Landscape: Prepare for, recognize and survive ransomware attacks