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Cyber leader expert commentary: CDK Global & Change Healthcare cyberattacks point to cascading failures

June 2024 by Stan Wisseman, Cybersecurity Chief Technologist, OpenText Cybersecurity

After the CDK Global ransomware attack and the fallout from the attack, please see below expert commentary on the similarities between the Change Healthcare and CDK Global attacks.
The Commentary from Stan Wisseman, Cybersecurity Chief Technologist, OpenText Cybersecurity.

“The major cyber incident at CDK Global brought thousands of car dealerships to a standstill during a typically busy holiday period. This incident not only caused immediate operational disruptions but also raised serious concerns about data security among auto dealers, pushing them to reassess and fortify their cybersecurity measures. The outage’s economic impact is also substantial, with dealership sales in the US topping $1.2 trillion in 2023. Companies like Ford are stepping in to assist dealers by setting up alternative software systems and workarounds, although they acknowledge that the impact will vary from dealer to dealer.

The ransomware attacks on Change Healthcare and CDK Global have cast a spotlight on the vulnerabilities of sectors heavily dependent on digital platforms. These ransomware attacks underscore the importance of addressing the inherent risks associated with interconnected digital infrastructures, which often feature multiple single points of failure (SPOF). A SPOF can halt an entire system, highlighting the need for an industry-wide effort to bolster defenses against ransomware specifically. This requires implementing advanced cybersecurity solutions, including comprehensive threat intelligence to detect and respond to ransomware indicators, proactive attack surface risk mitigation to prevent ransomware access, automated response capabilities to quickly contain incidents, and rigorous incident management strategies to recover from attacks.

Additionally, the concept of cascading failures—where the failure of one component due to ransomware can trigger a domino effect throughout the system—underscores the need for systems designed with redundancy and resilience at their core. Such designs are crucial for protecting against the compound risks posed by interconnectedness and complexity, ensuring operational continuity, and safeguarding vital systems across various sectors.

The ransomware incidents at Change Healthcare and CDK Global also highlight the critical role of cybersecurity readiness and response planning in maintaining operational integrity and protecting against potential economic losses. As digital platforms become increasingly integral to business operations, the need for ongoing vigilance and proactive cybersecurity measures to prevent and respond to ransomware becomes more pronounced. The ultimate goal is to defend against ransomware attacks, ensure rapid recovery, and maintain trust with clients in the wake of disruptions. This approach will not only mitigate the immediate impacts of such incidents but also strengthen the overall resilience of the digital ecosystem against future ransomware threats.”

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