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The year the tide turned on ransomware


This year was rife with ransomware. 2021 witnessed the attack on IT software company Kaseya that knocked 1,500 organizations offline, the CD Projekt Red hack that saw threat actors make off with source code for games including Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3, and several high-profile attacks targeting big-name tech companies, from Olympus to Fujitsu and Panasonic.
It was also the year that hackers seized global attention by targeting critical infrastructure, hacking American oil pipeline system Colonial Pipeline, meat-processing giant JBS and Iowa New Cooperative, an alliance of farmers that sells corn and soy, to name just a few.
After the attacks led to prolonged shutdowns, inflated oil prices and ran the risk of food shortages, the U.S. government began to take notice — after years of inaction — and scored some rare wins in what once seemed like an unwinnable battle against the ransomware epidemic.
It began in April when the Department of Justice formed the Ransomware and Digital Extortion Task Force. The move, which followed what the DOJ described as the “worst year” for ransomware attacks, aimed to prioritize the “disruption, investigation, and prosecution of ransomware and digital extortion activity.” The task force declared its first victory two months later when the DOJ announced i …

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