The attack comes on the heels of an FBI advisory on Oct. 2 that U.S. companies should be on alert for ransomware attacks, which are increasing in sophistication.
A malware attack encrypted information on some systems but did not seem to access any customer or employee data, the company said in a statement on its website. Officials immediately asked the Enterprise Outage Response Team to address the situation following its awareness of the attack, the company said.
“Our technical team is working to restore the affected systems, and it is working closely with third-party consultants to address this matter,” according to the statement.
Systems affected included Pitney Bowes’ mailing system products and customers’ access to Your Account. A number of other services were offline or unavailable due to the attack, including SendPro Online in the United Kingdom and Canada, according to Pitney Bowes.
“Clients are unable to refill postage or upload transactions on their mailing machine,” the company said in the statement. “Your Account and the Pitney Bowes Supplies web store cannot be accessed. This in turn impacts clients subscribed to AutoInk and our Supplies App.”
More than 1.5 million customers worldwide use Pitney Bowes’ services, which streamline shipping and mailing for clients, which include some Fortune 500 companies. The company asked for those customers’ patience as it worked to restore services to normal after the attack.
If Twitter comments are any indication, the attack did cause business disruption for some clients. In addition to large organizations, Pitney Bowes also counts users of do-it-yourself e-commerce sites like Etsy and Shopify among its customers.
“@PitneyBowes got hacked & our postage meter is being held hostage,” according to a Tweet Monday by user Andrea Dembo, who seemed to try to lighten the seriousness of the situation with the hashtag #freethemeter.
The Tweet was met with a series of replies from other Twitter users, even outside the United States, who said that they were experiencing similar disruptions in their Pitney Bowes services.
“Same here, we’re in Ireland and we’re locked out too. Annoying!” Tweeted user Mike Devereux.
Ransomware attacks—in which attackers hijack targets’ systems until they pay a ransom, often in Bitcoin—are some of the earliest tools of hackers, yet they remain relevant because they mean easy money for cybercriminals.
Attackers continue to add sophistication to this long-used form of malware to fool companies that are unaware of how insecure their systems–as well as the systems of business partners–really are, security experts noted.
“Ransomware provides an easy income for cybercriminals targeting successful corporations, which are typically taken completely by surprise when they learn just how many unsecured IT assets their ecosystem partners and subsidiaries have, and what an easy target for exfiltration and ransomware those assets present,” said Raphael Reich, vice president of cloud-based security firm CyCognito, in an e-mailed statement.
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