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Why a ransomware gang tattled on its victim, with Allan Liska: Lock and Code S04E24

This week on the Lock and Code podcast…

Like the grade-school dweeb who reminds their teacher to assign tonight’s homework, or the power-tripping homeowner who threatens every neighbor with an HOA citation, the ransomware group ALPHV can now add itself to a shameful roster of pathetic, little tattle-tales.

In November, the ransomware gang ALPHV, which also goes by the name Black Cat, notified the US Securities and Exchange Commission about the Costa Mesa-based software company MeridianLink, alleging that the company had failed to notify the government about a data breach. Under newly announced rules by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), public companies will be expected to notify the government agency about “material cybersecurity incidents” within four days of determining whether such an incident could have impacted the company’s stock prices or any investment decisions from the public.

According to ALPHV, MeridianLink had violated that rule. But how did ALPHV know about this alleged breach?

Simple. They claimed to have done it.

“It has come to our attention that MeridianLink, in light of a significant breach compromising customer data and operational information, has failed to file the requisite disclosure under Item 1.05 of Form 8-K within the stipulated four business days, as mandated by the new SEC rules,” wrote ALPHV in a complaint that the group claimed to have filed with the US government.

The victim, MeridianLink, refuted the claims. According to a MeridianLink spokesperson, while the company confirmed a cybersecurity incident, it denied the severity of the incident.

“Based on our investigation to date, we have identified no evidence of unauthorized access to our production platforms, and the incident has caused minimal business interruption,” a MeridianLink spokesperson said at the time. “If we determine that any consumer personal information was involved in this incident, we will provide notifications as required by law.”

This week on the Lock and Code podcast with host David Ruiz, we speak to Recorded Future intelligence analyst Allan Liska about what ALPHV could hope to accomplish with its SEC complaint, whether similar threats have been made in the past under other regulatory regime, and what organizations everywhere should know about ransomware attacks going into the new year. One big takeaway, Liska said, is that attacks are getting bigger, bolder, and brasher.

“There are no protections anymore,” Liska said. “For a while, some ransomware actors were like, ‘No, we won’t go after hospitals, or we won’t do this, or we won’t do that.’ Those protections all seem to have flown out the window, and they’ll go after anything and anyone that will make them money. It doesn’t matter how small they are or how big they are.”

Liska continued:

“We’ve seen ransomware actors go after food banks. You’re not going to get a ransom from a food bank. Don’t do that.”

Tune in today to listen to the full conversation.

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Show notes and credits:

Intro Music: “Spellbound” by Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
Outro Music: “Good God” by Wowa (

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David Ruiz

Pro-privacy, pro-security writer. Former journalist turned advocate turned cybersecurity defender. Still a little bit of each. Failing book club member.