Garmin reportedly paid cybercriminals millions of dollars following a WastedLocker ransomware attack that shut down its systems for several days. Today’s columnist, Andy Jaquith of QOMPLX, offers security pros insight into how ransomware cases have gone from disruption to disaster – even a recent death in Germany. (Photo Credit: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Ransomware has become an endemic problem in both the public and private sectors globally. And, let’s be honest: it has been for years. Recently, the cybercrime landscape shifted. High-profile incidents have underscored a pattern of ransomware gangs moving steadily up the food chain: from small, unsophisticated organizations such as local governments to some of the largest, wealthiest and most technically sophisticated firms in the world, including  Garmin, Konica-Minolta and the mobile operator Orange.

How have they done it? By attacking what we call Critical Controls Infrastructure (CCI). Simply put, CCI are the systems deep inside a company that implement the key controls that underpin the organization’s security program. These include  general IT controls, but most especially include authentication infrastructure such as Microsoft Active Directory.

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