Cybersecurity provider Cloudflare has observed a significant rise in threats toward its customers in recent months, CEO Matthew Prince told CNBC on Monday.
Prince’s comments, made in a “TechCheck” interview, came just days after a ransomware cyberattack hit Colonial Pipeline, leading the company to proactively halt operations on a key piece of U.S. petroleum infrastructure. Some parts of the pipeline are already back online, the company said in a statement Monday, with “the goal of substantially restoring operational service by the end of the week.”
“I think it’s actually a real concern right now that we’re seeing across the board more and more critical infrastructure being targeted by these sorts of attackers,” Prince told CNBC.
A relatively new hacker group known as DarkSide is responsible for the Colonial Pipeline attack, according to the FBI.
“I think what’s going on, anecdotally, is that attackers think their time may be coming to an end with, around the world, governments thinking of cracking down more and more on these cybersecurity incidents,” said Prince, who co-founded San Francisco-based Cloudflare in 2009.
“They seem to be unleashing everything, so in the last six months, we’ve seen a dramatic uptick in attacks against our customers,” Prince added, saying the world is currently experiencing an “unparalleled amount of cybersecurity activity.”
The SolarWinds hack, which hit U.S. government agencies and major tech companies, is another high-profile cybersecurity incident that’s surfaced in recent months. That incident became public in December, and the U.S. has since said Russians were likely behind it.
Shares of Cloudflare are down about 9% so far this year, although the stock remains up more than 160% in the past 12 months.
David Kennedy, a former NSA hacker who is now founder and CEO of security firm TrustedSec, echoed Prince’s assessment of the cyber landscape, telling CNBC the level of ransomware attacks is particularly worrisome.
“A lot of these companies, the only result they have is to pay the ransom to recover their entire business. These are big businesses. We’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars, billions of dollars of companies that are impacted by ransomware. It is out of control,” Kennedy said Monday on “Power Lunch.”
“It is one of those things where not just DarkSide, but all these other ransomware groups are making hundreds of millions of dollars a year off of ransomware,” Kennedy said, adding that there’s “no sign” of any slowdown. “In fact, we’ve seen a 300% increase this year alone in ransomware activity, and it’s just happening all the time, unfortunately.”