IT Services Giant Admits $42m Fallout from Ransomware Attack

A leading Spanish provider of business process outsourcing (BPO) services has admitted that a recent ransomware attack cost it tens of millions of dollars.

Telefonica company Atento describes itself as one of the “top five” customer relationship management (CRM) and BPO providers globally, with a particularly strong base in Latin America.

However, in October last year, it revealed a “cyber-attack” on its Brazilian subsidiary’s IT systems. At the time, the firm claimed to have “quickly identified” the threat, isolating affected systems and suspending connections to customers.

Within 24 hours, services began to come back online, and less than a week later, data center operations had resumed, Atento claimed.

However, a financial report for fiscal 2021 released this week revealed a much greater impact on the firm than initially thought.

It noted $34.8m in lost revenue in the fourth quarter due to “disruption on Brazil operations” and a further $7.3m in costs allocated to “protection, detection and remediation measures” related to the attack.

“Like so many companies in the current era, including some of the world’s technology leaders, we were struck by a cyber-attack, which impacted our fourth quarter results,” Atento’s CFO and CEO said in a joint statement.

“This impact proved to be far greater than we initially expected, due the complexities of these events and how the aftershocks manifest themselves.”

According to local reports, the firm did not pay its extorters, believed to be the prolific LockBit group.

As well as improve its protection, detection and remediation capabilities – including new agreements signed with CrowdStrike and Mandiant – Atento claimed to have established best practices and is now working more closely with “defense groups and agencies” to improve threat preparedness.

Its name will be added to a lengthening list of companies that have suffered extremely high losses following a ransomware attack, including French IT services firm Sopra Steria ($60m), aluminum giant Norsk Hydro ($41m) and IT services firm Cognizant ($70m).

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