Here’s Why You Should be Very Worried About the Garmin Hack

Do you wear a smartwatch or other wearable devices? Do you track your health and fitness activities? Do you rely on navigation while driving your car or, perhaps, while you’re out sailing?

If the answer is yes, you should definitely be very worried about the implications of the recent cyber attack on Garmin, the global leader in GPS navigation technology and communication devices, not just for the fitness industry, but for the automotive, marine, aviation, and outdoor markets as well.

On July 23, the company published a vague update on their official Twitter profile:

“We are currently experiencing an outage that affects Garmin Connect, and as a result, the Garmin Connect website and mobile app are down at this time. (1/2)

This outage also affects our call centers, and we are currently unable to receive any calls, emails or online chats. We are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible and apologize for this inconvenience. (2/2)”

After days of Garmin’s systems being down, the company issued a statement confirming the rumors that it was, in fact, hacked.  

“Garmin Ltd. was the victim of a cyber attack that encrypted some of our systems on July 23, 2020. As a result, many of our online services were interrupted including website functions, customer support, customer facing applications, and company communications. We immediately began to assess the nature of the attack and started remediation.” 

The statement that the outage had encrypted some of their systems, suggests a confirmation of the speculations that Garmin was hit by a ransomware attack, which affected a big chunk of their data. 

According to BleepingComputer, the ransomware is known as WastedLocker, and is attributed to Evil Corp, a cybercriminal group believed to be constituted of Russian hackers. Evil Corp’s primary targets are US businesses and organizations. Multiple sources online report that the ransom payment was set at $10 million.

While the company confirmed that the outage had affected the Garmin Connect mobile app, website, as well as their call centers, emails and chats, BleepingComputer reports that it failed to mention that flyGarmin services used by pilots, including the flyGarmin website and app, Connext Services and Garmin Pilot Apps used to download flight plans were also down as well. Furthermore, they share that the hack affected inReach satellite tech and Garmin Explore.

Considering the sensitivity of data that is collected by Garmin on a daily basis, such as GPS, health, fitness, flight plans, marine routes, and much more, and the use of Garmin’s systems not just by regular people, but entities such as the US military, cybersecurity should be taken extremely seriously by the company. Yet, it wasn’t, and it was targeted by hackers that are looking to (1) make money and (2) obtain such data, for whatever purposes. 

Despite the fact that Garmin reported that they “have no indication that any customer data, including payment information from Garmin Pay, was accessed, lost or stolen,” the question remains whether data that is even more critical was extracted. 

Garmin may be “happy to report that many of the systems and services affected by the recent outage, are returning to operation,” but it is still not clear whether they had to pay the $10 million ransom to restore the services used by both consumers and companies worldwide.