Adding to its long list of public-relations troubles, financial disasters, and legal woes, the National Rifle Association appears to be having some serious technical difficulties. On Wednesday, a group of Russian cybercriminals known as Grief published 13 internal NRA documents in an apparent ransomware scam, threatening to release sensitive information if it isn’t paid out.
Although the NRA did not comment publicly on the matter, it did publish an unprompted tweet in a tacit acknowledgment of the problem. According to cybersecurity experts, the group that hacked the NRA is most likely a rebranded version of a prolific collective called Evil Corp, which has been sanctioned by the Treasury Department since late 2019.
In recent years, ransomware attacks have flourished as the software to break through security systems has become cheaper and more accessible; hackers often buy the tools they need from larger syndicates and get going with very little training needed. Thanks to this ease of access — and easier payment schemes due to the purportedly untraceable currency of bitcoin — several large American firms have been hit by cybercriminals from former Soviet republics this year, including the attack on the meat manufacturer JBS S.A. and the disruptive breach of Colonial Pipeline. While President Joe Biden warned Russian president Vladimir Putin earlier this year to stop the proliferation of ransomware groups, top administration cybersecurity officials said in early October that the talking-to did nothing to slow the pace of the break-ins.