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IBM charts a 200% rise in destructive malware attacks on business networks in the first half of 2019 over the last half of 2018 in a new report.

Why it matters: Destructive malware damages systems or data. It adds a tremendous burden to companies recovering from attacks; the same IBM report calculates a $239 million average cost to a business to recover from a destructive attack.

Details: There are several reasons that hackers use destructive malware in an attack, Chris Scott, global remediation lead for IBM's X-Force IRIS security division, told Axios.

  • Nations are trying to harm an adversary or project strength — as when North Korea attacked Sony or Iran attacked the Sands casino.
  • Criminals have begun to incorporate network-wiping malware as added motivation in ransomware attacks.
  • Both can use wipers to hide their tracks, making it more difficult to study who was behind an attack or what exactly they did.

More than half the victims operate in the manufacturing sector.

Backing up data can allow an organization to recover after a breach. But recovery isn't as easy as you might think.

  • "A lot of people miss the scale this can get to," said Scott. "The average attack we saw impacted around 12,000 workstations. If it takes 15 minutes to restore each workstation, that's still a long recovery."

There are a few ways to minimize the damage, said Scott:

  • Rehearse and plan for a destructive attack. That means, among other things, make sure a destructive attack on a network would not damage the backups of that network.
  • Empower employees to act quickly. In an extreme example, Scott recalls an employee at a Saudi firm seeing an attack in progress, running to the server room, and pulling the plug on the company's network, saving the company from losing its production data and backups.
    • Scott concedes that may have been too much empowerment; most employees shouldn't be allowed to do that.
    • But it's worth deciding in advance, said Scott, what lengths employees can go to to stop an attack without having to wait for a go-ahead from the higher-ups.

Go deeper

Virginia energy giant quietly boosts McAuliffe

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks during a campaign rally on Oct. 15 in Henrico, Virginia. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe has sworn off money from the Richmond company Dominion Energy. But the utility has found more subtle ways to back McAuliffe's gubernatorial bid, records show.

Driving the news: Dominion's political action committee has donated $200,000 to a murky political group called Accountability Virginia PAC, a group with ties to prominent Democrats that's been running ads attacking Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin from the right.

3 hours ago - Technology

Race and technology in America

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The technology industry is famously determined to change the world — but its efforts to diversify its workforce and remove bias from its products haven't changed nearly enough.

Biden: "Being a cop today is one hell of a lot harder than it's ever been"

President Biden speaks during the 40th Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service at the U.S Capitolon Oct. 16. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden speaking at the U.S. Capitol on Saturday honored members of law enforcement who died in the line of duty in 2019 and 2021 and saluted those who are currently serving.

Driving the news: "We expect everything of you, and it's beyond the capacity of anyone to meet the total expectations. Being a cop today is one hell of a lot harder than it's ever been," Biden said.