Smartwatch maker Garmin taken offline after suspected cyber attack

Smartwatch maker Garmin has become the latest apparent victim of cyber criminals, with a suspected attack taking offline its website, mobile app and customer service call centres.

On Twitter, the company confirmed it was “experiencing an outage that affects Garmin Connect, and as a result, the Garmin Connect website and mobile app are down at this time”.

Garmin Connect is the service used by owners of the company’s smartwatches to track their running performance and other health and fitness goals.

Garmin has said an investigation is ongoing and the cause of the outage has not yet been confirmed. It is not clear whether any customer information has been affected.

However, the Taiwanese technology site iThome reported Garmin had been hit by a ransomware virus.

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iThome published an internal memo Garmin sent to its departments in Taiwan, warning that its databases and servers had been impacted as a result of a suspected hack, and that its production lines were being suspended.

Ransomware, which is a virus tailored to encrypt its victims’ computers and demand a ransom to open them again, has become less popular since it impacted the NHS in 2017.

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A ransomware attack may be mistaken for an incident of cyber extortion, or post-intrusion encryption, which is an increasingly popular method criminals use to monetise hacking into victims’ computers.

Criminals will encrypt a victim’s computers after they have already broken into the network and stolen data, and then “name and shame” the victims on the criminals’ websites, where the stolen files are usually leaked piecemeal in order to extort the victim.

Victims of such extortion have included a US nuclear missile military contractor and foreign exchange company Travelex.

The impact of the outage on Garmin has been significant, with the company adding: “This outage also affects our call centres, 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 apologise for this inconvenience.”

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