Attention all businesses! A cyber threat specifically targeting Cisco VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) has managed to infiltrate secure business systems, putting their sensitive information and financial assets in jeopardy. Ransomware deployed by members of Akira heightens the looming threat.

Learn about the risks below.

What Is Akira?

The cyber gang Akira creates and uses ransomware to target different victims. Cisco VPNs have fallen victim to attacks first detected in May 2023. These attacks began with Akira breaching entryways to corporate networks undetected.

The attacks escalated with stolen data. Victimized corporations eventually became targets of ransomware attacks, which put their data, devices, and networks at risk. Some targeted industries include:

  • Real estate 
  • Finance 
  • Education 

These industries are essential to modern civilization. Ransomware enters their systems, encrypting and hiding data on different devices as it spreads. Users face locked devices or encrypted folders they can't control when they try to access their data.

The ransomware gang asks the victim to pay a ransom to gain access to their device or decrypt their data. Criminals can also use the data for destructive purposes, such as damaging a company's reputation.

How the Cyber Threat Targeting Cisco VPNs Works

These attacks put cybersecurity experts in a race against rapidly evolving ransomware. But where did it all start? Here is how hackers target Cisco VPNs and cause cyber threats.

Vulnerable Remote Work Networks

Remote and hybrid workforces frequently use Cisco VPNs and similar tools. Akira developers buy login information on the dark web or gather other information to break into someone's account. From there, their ransomware accesses personal information via the target software.

Users trust the targeted tools and download them without worrying about security. Akira's ransomware will then find a weak point to exploit as an entry into the victim's device.

Contracting the Ransomware

Akira can hide its ransomware as a harmless email with an attachment or through file-hosting networks. In either case, when the victim opens the infected file, their device will be infected with the Akira ransomware. The program encrypts different data points, stopping the owner from accessing them.

The Akira group offers two options. Either the victim pays Akira, or the cyber gang sells their sensitive data on the dark web.

How To Protect Your Devices

Cybersecurity experts haven't found a guaranteed way to protect businesses and individuals from the cyber threat to Cisco VPNs. To keep your devices and information safe, follow these precautions:

  • Use multi-factor authentication for every device and digital account. Cybersecurity experts believe Akira exploits users with only one authentication factor.
  • Avoid vector software programs when possible. Akira disguises its ransomware as otherwise reputable programs.
  • Only download files and programs from secure, official websites. Ransomware spreads through illegal downloads and popups on insecure sites.

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