An unnamed source within Travelex disclosed to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that the company paid $2.3 million in Bitcoin in an effort to restore functionality to its systems following a ransomware attack.
Travelex was hit with a ransomware attack on New Year’s Eve, and it took a couple of weeks to restore some of its basic services, with the consumer side having to wait until February. The breadth of the attack was staggering, as the hackers infiltrated the company’s infrastructure six months before attacking with ransomware.
Hackers didn’t just linger around the network. They used the time to exfiltrate valuable information, 5GB in total, which they then used to blackmail the company after deploying ransomware. It’s a new tactic hackers use to discourage companies from using backups to restore functionality instead of paying ransom.
In the Travelex attack, the hackers used Sodinokibi ransomware and an unpatched critical vulnerability in Pulse Secure VPN servers. Companies were warned about this particular VPN vulnerability, but some companies didn’t update their systems in time.
While Travelex hasn’t revealed anything about ransom or payments, the initial reports place the sum at $3 million in Bitcoin. Cybersecurity companies and government authorities usually advise against paying the ransom, for two obvious reasons: first of all, paying criminals only emboldens all groups to continue with attacks and, secondly, there’s no guarantee that the hackers will return control.
Now, a new report from WSJ has revealed that the company actually paid $2.3 million in Bitcoin. However, there’s no indication whether they recouped their stolen data or if payment allowed them to resume operations.
On top of the ransomware attack, the company also faces financial problems following the COVID-19 pandemic, mainly because its parent company, Finablrm, had to appoint an independent financial advisor that will determine its future.