Cybercriminals have no boundaries when experimenting with ways to successfully carry out a cyberattack. We have seen these criminals prove time after time just how creative they can be when choosing their victims, but who have these hackers chosen as their newest targets? Ransomware operators have now made targets of superyacht owners.
Experts believe that hackers may possess the ability to take over complete control of a vessel, as well victimize those onboard by infiltrating their online accounts and stealing their photos. An article on the International Business Times goes into more details about how these dangerous cybercriminals are successfully making victims out of luxury boat owners.
While this type of attack may seem impossible or unlikely, one unfortunate superyacht owner can attest to the realness of the crime, having lost over $129,000 in an attack, according to The Guardian. Although this type of attack has serious financial consequences, these cybercriminals have also reportedly gone a step further, holding yachts at ransom and requiring payments to unlock their navigation systems.
Why are cybercriminals choosing superyachts as their newest targets? The answer is simple.
People on yachts are what cybercriminals call high-value targets,” said Malcolm Taylor, a former GCHQ officer who now heads up cybersecurity for the private security firm G3 told The Guardian. “They are wealthy, and money is what people want to steal or extort.”
How does a ransomware attack occur when targeting a superyacht?
Typically, ransomware infections occur by way of a drive-by; a crew member or guest is surfing web pages that may be dodgy to begin with, or some that are very popular,” Darren Mayhead, CEO of Great Circle Systems, a firm that provides IT services to yachts, said. “You want to view something, but a message says you don’t have the correct player or something similar. The pop-up message offers a link to download the player and the rest is history.”
Since these superyachts often belong to some of the wealthiest (and busiest) individuals, it is necessary that they come equipped with a strong Wi-Fi connection. On the surface Wi-Fi may not appear to be a major threat, however a strong connection requires a network be expanded across a large area, making it much more vulnerable to hackers.
At a Superyacht Investor conference in London last week, Blackberry’s cybercrime expert Campbell Murray, demonstrated how easy it is for these vessels to become hijacked by a hacker. Murray told the conference how they had been able to control satellite communications, the telephone system, the Wi-Fi and the navigation of a vessel. He also explained how easily they were able to hijack the yacht’s CCTV, which would make a physical attack possible as well. Through wiping the CCTV, a hijacker could remove the evidence so nobody would have any knowledge of who was on the vessel. Murray was also quoted by the Guardian saying they had the capability to wipe the data and erase any evidence indicating what they had done.
As ransomware attacks are only growing, it is important to be aware of the great lengths criminals will go to carry out an attack. Educating yourself on cybersecurity is vital and can be a great way to help ensure you do not fall victim to a similar attack.