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Garmin ‘back up’ after mysterious ‘WastedLocker’ ransomware attack took fitness app offline globally


GARMIN is reportedly back up after millions of fitness fanatics across the globe were unable to use their wearable gadgets over the weekend.

The lengthy outage was allegedly the work of a sinister Russian playboy hacker but some users reported Monday that services were back online.

Fitness smartwatch firm Garmin shut down its connected services and call centres on July 23 following what the company called a worldwide outage.

As of Monday, July 27, the outage appears to be lifting. The Verge reports that some services are back online although Garmin has not confirmed this.

Dozens of users on Twitter have reported that the app and website are both back online after the four-day blackout.

According to BBC News, the company is now in the “final phase of recovery”.

However, some services are still experiencing issues, according to reports.

Problems affected Garmin services including Garmin Connect, which wearers use to manage and upload data collected by their gadgets.

As a result, wearers could not record their fitness activities, such as running, cycling or swimming.

“Garmin is currently experiencing an outage that affects Garmin services including Garmin Connect,” the firm said in a statement last week.

“As a result of the outage, some features and services across these platforms are unavailable to customers.”

Garmin added: “Additionally, our product support call centres are affected by the outage and as a result, we are currently unable to receive any calls, emails or online chats.

“We are working to restore our systems as quickly as possible and apologize for the inconvenience.”

Garmin has still offered no explanation for the outage.

However, security analysts believe the company fell victim to a coordinated cyber attack.

Several Garmin employees took to social media last week to say the company had suffered a ransomware attack, according to ZDNet.

Ransomware is a type of cyber attack that sees hackers take control of computers, tablets or mobile phones remotely and demand a payment.

Those who don’t pay up are locked out of their computers for good.

Often the hackers trick the user into downloading malicious software – using a dodgy email or app – and encrypt the victim’s information.

Experts have suggested that the Garmin outage appeared to coincide with a WastedLocker ransomware attack against the fitness giant.

Sources at Garmin have since confirmed to both BleepingComputer and BBC News that the company was the victim of WastedLocker malware.

WastedLocker is a type of ransomware used by a Russian group of cybercriminals called Evil Corp.

The sinister collective is headed up by 33-year-old Russian playboy hacker, Maksim Yakubets.

Mr Yakubets is wanted by the FBI and has been accused of stealing at least $100million since he began his life of cyber crime in 2009.

A $5million bounty was put on his head in December 2019 by the American authorities as he was named the world’s biggest cyber-criminal.

Western law enforcement alleges Mr Yakubets has actively worked with the Russian Federal Security Service since 2017.

National Crime Agency director Rob Jones has described the lifestyle of Ukrainian-born Mr Yakubets as “flamboyant and extravagant.”

He’s “cash-rich with fast cars” – driving a customised Lamborghini supercar with a personalised number plate and lettering that means ‘Thief’ in Russian.

Garmin has not confirmed it was the victim of a WastedLocker or other ransomware attack, any link is purely speculative for now.

According to The Verge, it’s possible to avert a WastedLocker attack by recovering company data using backup files.

This allows the victim to take back control of its data without paying a ransom. For large companies, the process can take several days.

Ransom demands associated with WastedLocker are usually very pricey.

However, it is unclear if any such demands were made and suggestions of a ransomware attack remain speculative.

The attack works by encrypting the company’s files and other data, rendering it inaccessible to employees.

Evil Corp demanded a $10million ransom for the safe return of the data, sources told BleepingComputer.

Screenshots shared by the tech site showed Garmin company files encrypted with a ransom note attached.

The note told recipients to contact one of two email addresses to “get a price for your data”.

Fortunately, there’s no reason to believe EvilCorps stole or shared the data of Garmin users.

The alleged hack appears to have been a coordinated attempt to extort money from Garmin, rather than make cash off of users’ information.

However, there’s no guarantee the group chose not to siphon off user data to sell to other hackers or for use in other cyber attacks.

Garmin says it collects personal data including your name, email address, location, text and call data, and other information.

It appears some Garmin services have been restored, but there’s no way to know when the app and website will be back to full health.

Garmin still says it is “investigating” the issue and will provide updates as they become available.

On Monday morning, a spokesperson told The Sun there was no set return date for Garmin’s services.

The Sun has reached out to Garmin for further comment.

Check Garmin’s Twitter account and its outage Q&A page for further updates.

In other news, Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 5G smartphone is set to be released on August 7.

A security vulnerability that could let hackers set fire to smartphone fast chargers has been revealed.

And, Apple is planning to load future iPhone cameras with high-powered zoom capabilities, according to one insider.

Do you use a smartwatch? Let us know in the comments…


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