2021-05-28  Cyber protection is not only digital protection. If this wasn’t clear before, two recent high profile attacks, one in South Africa and one in the US, should make this apparent.

The ongoing fallout from the cyberattacks on Virgin Active and Colonial Pipeline is a stark reminder that digital and online technology are inextricably part of our real-world, analogue lives. The unspecified cyberattack on fitness company Virgin Active kept all its online systems offline for two weeks, including its online booking system. And the attack on Colonial Pipeline by ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) organisation DarkSide kept one of the biggest pipelines in the country offline, resulting in the fuel price rising and fuel stations running out of supplies. The company was able to restore services almost a week later after it reportedly paid an estimated $5 million ransom.

While not being able to book your HIIT class online is not as serious as fuel shortages and price hikes, both of these attacks demonstrate the real-world impact of cyberattacks on our day-to-day lives. While Virgin Active was quick to point out that no customer data had been compromised, its customer service is being significantly affected, which will no doubt impact its brand and reputation.

In the case of the Colonial Pipeline attack, the cyber criminals stole 100GB. In the past, DarkSide’s tactics have been to lock companies out of their systems and hold data for ransom. In addition, if the ransom is not paid, the criminal group threatens to publish the data publicly, and also make it available to investors and analysts before the exfiltrated data is shared more widely.

In both attacks, it is noteworthy how long both digital and real-world systems have been offline. The pipeline attack specifically points to the blurring of lines between business IT and OT. Even though DarkSide didn’t attack the pipeline’s OT infrastructure directly, it was taken down by Colonial Pipeline to contain the attack.

What does this mean for MSPs?

These recent attacks continue a trend already accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. With cybercriminals tapping into the latest technology, the ability to carry out sophisticated attacks has become more accessible and cost effective. Around the world, companies of all sizes are equally at risk. But as attacks have become more advanced and IT environments have become more complex, too often this has resulted in a “tool for every risk” security approach.

For MSPs this increases information overload, complexity, costs, and demands for specialist skills. Despite this hard work, this approach doesn’t offer the MSPs’ clients seamless protection. A patchwork approach to cybersecurity is like adding more horses to your stagecoach and trying to outrace a Ferrari. It doesn’t work because the modern threat landscape has evolved and matured beyond the traditional way of doing things. Instead, MSPs need to tap into innovative approaches to cyber protection and work smarter, not harder to offer seamless cyber protection with integrated cybersecurity, data protection and accessibility to data.

Acronis Cyber Protection Solutions unify modern data protection, cybersecurity, and endpoint management capabilities into a single platform, console, and user experience. Visit the Acronis website to find out more.

Written for publication on the Synapsys website on 28 May 2021