The richest place in the world is cyberspace and the most valuable commodity there is information. On July 23, multibillion-dollar tech giant Garmin, who produces smartwatches and aviation products with world renown GPS capabilities, suffered major outages. The outages stemmed from a ransomware that hacked their servers, instituted by the now notorious Russian hacking group, Evil Corp.
This custom software takes control of Garmin’s company files until the company pays the ransom desired by Evil Corp and their leader, Russian hacker and playboy Maksim Yakubets. Although the idea of hacking information for ransom is a relatively new concept, Yakubets’ group has already successfully taken over $100 million dollar is in cyber heist from banks around the world, leading them to be sanctioned by the US Treasury Department. In the case of the Garmin hacking, the company was willing to pay the $10 million dollars demanded by Evil Corp in return for the information their software stole.
Why was the information so valuable one might ask?
As a company that specialize in GPS, or global position system, their servers house the exact location for the millions of users that use their technologies in wristwatches, smartphones, and laptops, as well as much of the users private and medical information. If Garmin did not pay the $10 million dollars for the information, someone else would have, whether it be the Russian government or some other significant global actor.
In today’s world, information is of the utmost value. For billions of us, we trust and store much of that on private servers through tech companies like Apple, Google, and of course Garmin. Everything about us from our conversations via test or email, to our precise location, to our online shopping history is all stored as data on servers across the world. These technologies are the future designed to make our lives easier, but they are bulletproof. Data is the future and it is valuable; the more information one has, the more power they do.
Yakubets group is a bunch of criminals who steal information for their own benefit, but they do offer us a warning. Should we really be sacrifice so much of our private information and inherit freedoms just to make our lives easier?