HomeCII/OTJohnson Controls Incurs Ransomware Cleanup Costs Exceeding $27M and Still Rising

Johnson Controls Incurs Ransomware Cleanup Costs Exceeding $27M and Still Rising

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Johnson Controls International (JCI) was forced to spend a substantial $27 million in the aftermath of a devastating ransomware attack on its systems in September 2023, a situation that even raised concerns about potential threats to physical security from government officials at the time.

The company made a recent filing with the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), detailing the significant impact of the attack on its building automation, HVAC, and fire protection systems. The attack was first discovered over the weekend of Sept. 23 when the company began receiving reports of system outages. It was later identified as a ransomware attack that effectively crippled its internal IT infrastructure and allowed the attackers to steal company data.

The specific group behind the attack was not disclosed in the filing, but at the time, researchers attributed it to Dark Angels, using a custom VMware ESXi encryptor. In response to the attack, JCI enacted its incident management and response plan, as well as its business continuity plans. These measures included implementing remediation actions to minimize the impact of the incident and restore affected systems and functions.

According to the SEC filing, the $27 million in expenses associated with the attack includes payments from cyber insurance and covers the cost of engaging external cybersecurity experts to assist with the recovery. The filing also noted that ongoing efforts to investigate and remedy the effects of the attack are expected to result in further expenditures.

In the aftermath of the attack, there were initial fears raised by the Department of Homeland Security about potential implications for JCI’s digital products, services, and solutions, including OpenBlue and Metasys. These lines of business, which are commonly utilized in industrial settings, encompass smart-building and AI-enabled technologies that converge operational technology (OT) with IT systems. However, JCI has stated that there is no evidence of any impact on these products, services, and solutions from the cyberattack.

Despite the hefty costs incurred from the attack, JCI and its shareholders can be reassured that the company has taken significant steps to mitigate the effects of the ransomware incident. The company’s implementation of established response plans and the continued efforts towards recovery demonstrate a commitment to addressing the cybersecurity threat in a thorough and responsible manner. JCI’s proactive approach is critical in safeguarding its systems and maintaining the trust of its customers and partners. Additionally, the transparency provided in the SEC filing offers valuable insight for stakeholders into the immediate and long-term implications of the cyberattack.

It is evident that the impact of the ransomware attack on JCI has been substantial, both in terms of the financial resources expended and the operational disruptions experienced. The incident serves as a sobering reminder of the pervasive threats posed by cybercriminals and the critical importance of robust cybersecurity measures. JCI’s experience highlights the potential vulnerabilities faced by organizations, particularly those operating in critical infrastructure sectors, and underscores the need for continued vigilance and investment in cybersecurity defenses. As the investigation and recovery efforts continue, JCI remains focused on restoring the affected systems and strengthening its defenses to prevent future incidents.

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