In January 2021, Brazilian cybersecurity startup PSafe identified the biggest data leak in the country’s history, when 223 million Brazilians (including already dead) had data exposed and sold on the internet. Faced with a breach of this size, Marco DeMello, president of PSafe, does not see the rise in cases of company data hijacking with surprise. According to him, companies have not yet realized the size of the damage they may be exposed to by not diligently protecting their systems.
The Renner case created panic, says Mello, who received calls from businessmen fearing they would become the next victim. “But I ask: why the panic just now? The plug had to have fallen a long time ago.”
Read below the main excerpts from the interview.
As mr. do you see this moment with so many attacks? Are companies taking precautions?
The obligation of a criminal is to commit crime. Ransomware will generate more than $20 billion in revenue this year. It became an industry. So, the obligation and responsibility of companies is to defend themselves. The only solution for companies is prevention. The Brazilian businessman still thinks that this type of problem only happens to multinationals, but history is showing that they are all targets.
• What is ransomware and how does it work?
Are entrepreneurs worried about these attacks?
I received several calls from panicked business owners after this Renner attack. But I ask: why the panic just now? The plug had to have gone down a long time ago. Protection is not by antivirus, but with a smart defense. Attacks can be on servers, but 90% of attacks start with a vulnerable machine and then move to servers.
How do these attacks occur?
Through artificial intelligence. We have to do away with the image of the hacker with a hat on his head and a pimple on his face. It’s an industry. Criminals use artificial intelligence to take control of the company and hijack everything through technology. They are very sophisticated criminals who have invested a lot. And the defense of companies is not sophisticated. Protection needs to be continuous and proactive.
What are companies’ options after having their data hijacked?
Once the attack takes place, the company has nothing to do. The options are to pay the ransom, which is most of the time, or have a backup of the entire server – depending on the company, restoring data can be even more expensive than the ransom. To top it all off, the ransom value is not done randomly: they now have access to all the company’s data and are able to make the exact calculation of the money the company has to pay.
Why is the number of cases growing so much?
The explosion happened, mainly, since 2020. All company data, because of the pandemic, started to be online, and security did not keep up. Hackers evolved ten years in ten months and realized that this is a profitable business: no one is arrested, no one is harassed or tracked by the government, and no one pays taxes, as everything is done by bitcoin.
The information is from the newspaper The State of São Paulo.
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