Between 800 and 1,500 businesses around the world have been affected by a ransomware attack centered on U.S. information technology firm Kaseya, its chief said on Monday.
Fred Voccola, the Florida-based company’s CEO, said in an interview that it was hard to estimate the precise impact of Friday’s attack because those hits were mainly customers of Kaseya’s customers.
Kaseya is a company which provides software tools to IT outsourcing shops: companies that typically handle back-office work for companies too small or modestly resourced to have their own tech departments.
One of these tools was subverted on Friday, allowing the hackers to paralyze hundreds of businesses on all five continents. Although most of those affected have been small concerns-like dentists’ offices or accountants had to close- the disruption has been felt more keenly in Sweden, where hundreds of supermarkets had to close because their cash registers were inoperative, or New Zealand, where schools and kindergartens were knocked offline.
The hackers who claimed responsibility for the breach have demanded $70 million to restore all the affected businesses’ data, although they have indicated a willingness to temper their demands in private conversations with cybersecurity expert and with Reuters.
“We are always ready to negotiate,” a representative of the hackers told Reuters earlier Monday. The representative, who spoke via a chat interface on the hacker’s website, didn’t provide their name.
The topic of ransom payments has become increasingly fraught as ransomware attacks become increasingly disruptive and lucrative.
Voccola said he had spoken to officials at the White House, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Homeland Security about the breach but declined to say what they had told him about paying or negotiating.