TL;DR: Mexico state-backed oil giant Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) was hit over the weekend with a DoppelPaymer ransomware attack, demanding nearly $5 million in BTC. The scheme caused Pemex to shut down related terminals around the country, delaying payment systems and causing public relations headaches.
Pemex Hit With $5 Million BTC Ransomware Attack
Pemex is the globe’s second-largest state-owned company, holding close to half a trillion dollars in total assets. It’s also a source of national pride for Mexico, and so any disruption in its day-to-day operations is newsworthy. Hackers evidently told Reuters the ransom was raised after the oil and gas giant refused to respond.
Ransomware is exactly as advertised. Hackers get ahold of a system in a variety of ways, somehow compel workers to inadvertently install a program enabling access to sensitive, often critical, functions. The company or agency is then given an ultimatum to pay, increasingly in cryptocurrency, or suffer the consequences. For many executives and city councils, it becomes a raw calculation, and they’ve often chosen to simply pay in order to regain access.
“A ransom note that appeared on Pemex computers seen by Reuters pointed to a darknet website affiliated with ‘DoppelPaymer,’ a type of ransomware,” the news agency explained. “The website demanded 565 bitcoins, or nearly $5 million at current prices, and threatened Pemex with a 48-hour deadline, listing an email address to contact.”
Pemex apparently has still not responded to either media requests or attackers. The company has, however, issued a statement, which encouraged those covering the ongoing saga to “avoid rumors and disinformation,” insisting the attack impacted a small number of its terminals. DoppelPaymer is a rebranding of sorts from security outfit CrowdStrike, and this latest variation forced Pemex “to communicate with employees via mobile messaging service WhatsApp,” Reuters noted, “because employees could not open their emails, said another source, who was also not authorized to speak to reporters.”
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