Potential ransomware attack causes outage for Garmin

Garmin has reportedly been hit by a ransomware attack.

Users of Garmin’s fitness devices have been out of luck for nearly a day with the company suffering from a major outage. Currently, reports suggest that the outage may have been caused by a ransomware attack.

First reported by Garmin on Thursday, the outage is still affecting its wearables, apps, and call centers at the time of this writing.

“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. 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,” Garmin said on Twitter.

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Going Offline

The current outage is hitting Garmin hard across almost all of its segments and outlets. It was forced to shut down most of its services on Thursday to deal with the issue.

Arguably the biggest service outage affecting consumers is Garmin Connect. It allows those who own Garmin fitness wearables, like its Forerunner smartwatches, to track and upload their statistics in real-time. For instance, it can be used to track performance data for a run or bike ride. Right now, users aren’t able to sync their data to Garmin’s servers—which are down for maintenance following the alleged ransomware attack.

Meanwhile, ZDNet reports that flyGarmin, the company’s navigation service for pilots is also down. That outage is reportedly affecting several pilots. They are left without a way to download the most up-to-date version of Garmin’s aviation database, which is an FAA requirement.

The Garmin Pilot app, which many pilots use to schedule and plan their flights, also remains out of service.

Due to the many outages, Garmin users understandably have questions and concerns. Unfortunately, the company’s call centers, chat support, and email servers were also knocked offline.

The attack didn’t just affect the software side of things, however. ZDNet reports that an internal memo sent by Garmin’s IT staff to its Taiwan factories announced two days of maintenance for Friday and Saturday. This almost certainly means that the company’s production lines are temporarily halted.

If that is the case, then the attack is likely far more devastating than Garmin initially reported.

As of now, it isn’t clear whether users should be worried about their personal data. Though the attack seemed focused on taking down Garmin’s services rather than stealing information, it could have also compromised personal data stored on the company’s servers.

Garmin for Ransom?

The most likely explanation for what is going on is a ransomware attack. While the company has declined to say so in an official capacity, Garmin employees have shared details about the incident on social media and all called it a ransomware attack.

Several have attributed the outage to a new form of ransomware called WastedLocker. As of now, those claims haven’t been verified and are merely speculation.

That being said, ransomware is perhaps the only form of cybersecurity threat with the ability to shut down online services, websites, production lines, call centers, and more. Garmin is currently dealing with all of those things. The fact that the outage happened in a matter of hours further suggests that some form of ransomware is to blame.


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