Attack on email provider wipes out nearly two decades of data

Instead of financial gain or other more usual goals, the attacker leaves behind the “digital scorched earth”

An unknown attacker wreaked rare havoc on email service provider VFEmail, wiping out all company data stored in the United States, according to a announcement on the company’s website.

Calling the incident “catastrophic,” the company said the intruder destroyed not only primary data on the company’s US servers, but all backups as well. The attack destroyed 18 years of user data and backups from a company that provided free and paid email services to businesses and end users. This, of course, means countless email messages sent and received by its users over the years.

The attack on the Wisconsin-based company reportedly took place over several hours on Monday. Soon after users started complaining that something was wrong, VFEmail acknowledged the attack on its entire US-based infrastructure.

“Right now, the attacker has formatted all of the disks on each server. Each virtual machine [virtual machine] is lost. Every file server is lost, every backup server is lost ”, VFEmail tweeted later, the damage assessment.

In addition, the attacker zoomed in on the company’s resources in the Netherlands. There, as reported security reporter Brian Krebs, VFEmail “caught a hacker formatting one of the company’s mail servers.”

Primary data in the Netherlands was also destroyed but, according to CNET, at least some of the backups have been recovered. Nevertheless, “[i]It’s far from a complete makeover, ”the site wrote, quoting VFEmail owner Rick Romero.

In the meantime, the site has reportedly restored the ability to deliver and send emails to at least some of its users. VFEmail wrote that they continue to work on recovering all user data that can be recovered.

That said, Romero painted a grim picture on his personal Twitter account: “Yeah, @VFEmail is indeed gone. He probably won’t come back ”, he hinted.

Krebs noted the service’s past problems with cybercriminals. Over the years, VFEmail has mainly been confronted with multiple distributed denial of service (DDoS), including those involving extortion attempts. However, none of these attacks or others resulted in what is apparently irrecoverable data loss.

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June J. Lopez

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