Hackers Target Acer in Largest-ever Ransomware Demand at $50 million

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Hackers have published sensitive corporate documents allegedly stolen from technology giant Acer after hitting the computer maker with a US$50 million extortion demand – the largest ever known ransomware demand.

Last weekend, criminals posted financial spreadsheets, bank statements, and other stolen files purportedly pilfered from Acer’s corporate systems online, as first reported by Bleeping Computer.

It followed the deployment of REvil ransomware onto Acer’s systems and a request for US$50 million to regain access.

It is the largest known ransomware demand to date, following a US$42 million extortion by operators of the same REvil ransomware last year against a US law firm to keep sensitive data on its celebrity clients from being publicly released.

Acer appears to have been given until March 28 to meet the hackers’ ultimatum or face a doubled ransom demand to US$100 million. The criminals had previously offered a 20 percent discount should Acer have met the initial demand by March 17.  The attack appears to have begun in mid-March.

The initial infection vector for the ransomware was likely a vulnerability in Microsoft Exchange servers; cyber security expert Vitali Kremez told Bleeping Computer his team had detected the REvil gang targeting an Exchange server on Acer’s domain.

The demand for for US$50 million to regain access is the largest known ransomware demand to date

Earlier this month Microsoft revealed multiple criminal groups were actively exploiting four just-discovered critical vulnerabilities in on-premise Exchange servers. Many tens of thousands of organisations are reported to have fallen victim to date in what has been termed a global cyber security crisis. 

This week security researchers at F-Secure said thousands of attacks on vulnerable Exchange servers were occurring every day, with half of all Exchange servers exposed to the internet still yet to apply the critical patches.

Acer has not commented directly on the breach, saying only that it had “reported recent abnormal situations” to relevant authorities and that an investigation was ongoing.

Ahmed Khanji

Ahmed Khanji

Ahmed Khanji is the CEO of Gridware, a leading cybersecurity consultancy based in Sydney, Australia. An emerging thought leader in cybersecurity, Ahmed is an Adjunct Professor at Western Sydney University and regularly contributes to cybersecurity conversations in Australia. As well as his extensive background as a security advisor to large Australian enterprises, he is a regular keynote speaker and guest lecturer on offensive cybersecurity topics and blockchain.

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