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Garmin Entirely Shutdown: Hack & Ransomeware Attack Strongly Suspected
Don’t panic, it wasn’t something you said on the Garmin forums that got you a lifetime ban. Garmin is well and truly down and, according to ZDNET “…since the incident took root earlier today, at around 03:00 am UTC, several Garmin employees took to social media to share details about the attack, all calling it a ransomware attack.“
You have probably noticed that you cannot upload your workouts to either Garmin Connect on your smartphone or to Garmin Connect online via the Garmin Express software. That’s because the online data platform is closed for “”” maintenance “””. I just thought I’d add the extra speech marks there because it’s patently untrue that this is scheduled maintenance.
If you go to Garmin.com and try to buy something then you will also find that you are unable to do that and when a company doesn’t let you buy their stuff that’s really serious. Poor customer service is one thing but not taking money is just plain bad for the share price. There’s no point in calling the call centre because that’s down as well – that’s possibly NOT affected by whatever is doing the affecting and Garmin has just shut external calls off for a while to avoid having to answer the same question time after time.
If Garmin has been hacked and is currently assembling LOTS of Bitcoin for a soon-to-be-very-rich Russian computer nerd then I’d be VERY surprised. But even having said that it is strange that Garmin has been down already for many hours – since before 6 am UK time (edit 18 hours later…. Ouch. Oops. Oh dear).
Are there ANY parts of the service still running? Let’s take a look…nope
Actually that’s not entirely true. Eagle-eyed readers will note that some Garmin regional sites are still up and running such as Garmin Singapore.
Other reports from a leaked Garmin Taiwan memo suggest that the hack may have originated in that country. It’s possible the shutdown could be a precautionary measure against any such hack.
Forbes reports that the ransomware is EvilCorp’s WastedLocker, which primarily targets US-based corporations from Russian-based groups. Russia and China are clearly the current ‘official enemies’ but if the attack first happened at Garmin Taiwan then China might be a more obvious one to blame – remember that Taiwan IS an independent country but China dispute that and claim it as their own (source: BBC).
What I expect will happen: Garmin will revert back to one of their many enterprise-scale backups and their world of sports stats will gradually be switched on region-by-region. You won’t lose any data. In fact, all you will lose is your patience as it will take a few days. There will be a digital apology but you won’t be offered a meaningfully free voucher for anything worth having.
Interesting Footnote: The recent TWITTER hack that saw multiple postings of a Bitcoin scam on the accounts of famous/verified tweeters demonstrated that there is CLEARLY a level of security over and above what we implement as users ie, in that case, something which Twitter could override. So YOU can be as secure as YOU want to but there are methods of access to your account beyond your control that can also be hacked – I’m assuming that’s possibly true at Garmin too.
Interesting Footnote: the UK government alone can fine companies millions of dollars (pounds) for the breach of customer data and I’d imagine the same is true in other localities around the world. However, I would not expect Garmin to face the maximum fine as I would doubt very much that they have been either complacent or negligent in their handling of your data. Bad stuff sometimes happens. Even if Garmin were fined tens of millions of dollars they could afford it. Garmin’s share price fell today; however, the fall is in line with the fall in the market and so probably is not related to this incident.
WORKAROUND: It is possible to attach many Garmin devices to a computer and manually move the FIT file from the Garmin\activities folder to wherever you want it. Similarly, you can upload that same file manually to STRAVA if that’s where you want it to go. You know what to do.
The folder is not always in quite the same place on all models and on older models you will find a copy of your data in a Garmin Express folder on your computer.