Garmin confirms cyberattack: Cloud services held to ransom

Chris Davies - Jul 27, 2020, 12:50 pm CDT
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Garmin confirms cyberattack: Cloud services held to ransom

Garmin has confirmed that it was a cyberattack that took Garmin Connect and the wearables company’s other systems offline for more than four days. The company says that it is still working on bringing all of its systems back online, but says there is “no indication” that any payment information from its Garmin Pay service or otherwise was stolen.

“Garmin Ltd. was the victim of a cyber attack that encrypted some of our systems on July 23, 2020,” the company said today. “As a result, many of our online services were interrupted including website functions, customer support, customer facing applications, and company communications. We immediately began to assess the nature of the attack and started remediation.”

It’s unclear what “remediation” means at this point, and Garmin has not said whether it paid those responsible for the attack in order to have the data unlocked again. “Affected systems are being restored and we expect to return to normal operation over the next few days,” Garmin said. “We do not expect any material impact to our operations or financial results because of this outage.”

Despite concerns otherwise, Garmin says that user data wasn’t actually compromised – just locked away from its rightful owners. “We have no indication that any customer data, including payment information from Garmin Pay, was accessed, lost or stolen,” the company insists. “Additionally, the functionality of Garmin products was not affected, other than the ability to access online services.”

Data collected, but which couldn’t be synchronized to the Garmin Connect cloud, should still be safely stored on individual devices. While the various components are coming back online, as reported earlier today, there are still some gaps in the line-up. Activity details and uploads are working, for example, but leaderboard stats for challenges may be delayed, as might Garmin Coack plans assigned new workouts.

As for integration with third-party services, like Strava, Garmin says that’s still a work-in-progress. Strava Beacon integration is working, and Segments and Routes are being queued to synchronize with devices. However any uploaded activities may encounter a delay before they actually reach a user’s Strada account.

Undoubtedly the next weeks and months will be filled with Garmin trying to figure out exactly what happened, who was responsible, and what needs to be done to prevent it from happening again. The company certainly isn’t alone in being impacted by cyber attacks of this nature, however. Holding files to ransom by remotely encrypting them, and refusing to permit access again until the victim coughs up a bounty, is growing in popularity as hackers explore weak points in connected devices and the systems they rely upon.


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