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Brenntag Hacked by DarkSide, Pays $4.4m Ransomware Attack

Company pays hackers $4.4 million in Bitcoin to release data

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Brenntag Pool Chemical Distributor targeted in Ransomware Attack by DarkSide hackers - pays $4.4 m ransom

In recent news, Brenntag a leading world-wide distributor of chemicals; was attacked in a ransomware attack by a hacker group known as DarkSide. The ransomware group extracted a whopping $4.4 million dollars in Bitcoin from the second largest chemical distributor in North America.

A world-wide chemical distribution company, Brenntag is headquartered in Essen, Germany with operations in 77 countries. The distributor has 17,000 employees spread out across 670 sites across the globe. The company has 190 sites in the U.S. and Canada and has around 40,000 customers in those regions. Brenntag distributes a variety of chemicals and essential materials used by the pool industry.

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Pool Chemical Distributor Hacked

Brenntag confirmed that it suffed a “limited security information incident”, but insiders at Bleeping Computer say that the distributor was looking at a substantial data loss of over 150 GB of stole data including:

  • Financial and accounting information
  • Sensitive Accounting & HR information
  • Contracts, NDAs, Marketing, Legal
  • Projects, Chemical Formulas
DarkSide posted the exact contents stolen from Brenntag
DarkSide posted the exact contents stolen from Brenntag

The hackers originally demanded 133.65 Bitcoin ($4.79 million) but after protracted negotiations with the company, finally accepted the payment of $4.4 million on May 11th.

The ransomware attack targeted Brenntag’s North America division. The hackers encrypted devices and stole unencrypted files off the network. To establish their claims, DarkSide created a private leak page that detailed the contents in question as well as a few screenshots of some files.

Brenntag - Pool Chemical Distributor forced to pay $4.4 million dollar ransom for data
Brenntag – The pool chemical distributor was forced to pay $4.4 million in Bitcoin.

Company executives and shareholders both want to know how hackers gained access to Brenntag’s network. DarkSide is a (RaaS) or Ransomware-as-a-Service. Similar to other cloud severices, this one operates in a fashion that allows ransomware developers to partner with hackers who are able to gain network access to deliver the payload.

As part of the deal, DarkSide team members typically earn a 20-30% commission on the ransom with the rest going to the affiliates who performed the attack. In the case of Brenntag’s hack, a DarkSide affiliate claims to obtained access after buying stolen network credentials.

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This isn’t the first ransomware attack the group has conducted that has hit the mass media. Recently DarkSide attacked the Colonial Pipeline. The Biden administration admonished Russia who they are certain have been behind recent attacks.

“We are working to try to get to the place where we have sort of an international standard that governments knowing that criminal activities are happening from their territory, that we all — we all move on those — those criminal enterprises,” said Biden. “I expect that’s one of the topics I’ll be talking about with — with President Putin.”

Russia has denied any involvement in other of the two attacks. One thing is clear though, the number of ransomware attacks against US corporations is increasing, both in frequency and in the ransom amounts being demanded. Experts say this incident is a perfect example of how imperative it is for large scale pool companies, manufacturers and distributors to begin paying closer attention to their network security. Brenntag North America learned this lesson the hard way.

5/5 - (1 vote)

Editor in Chief of Pool Magazine - Joe Trusty is also CEO of PoolMarketing.com, the leading digital agency for the pool industry. An internet entrepreneur, software developer, author, and marketing professional with a long history in the pool industry. Joe oversees the writing and creative staff at Pool Magazine. To contact Joe Trusty email info@poolmagazine.com or call (916) 467-9118 during normal business hours. For submissions, please send your message to submissions@poolmagazine.com

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Tesla Pool – Automaker Adds Swimming Pool To Charger Station

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Tesla Swimming Pool

One of the primary reasons consumers opt to purchase a Tesla is the robust availability of convenient charging stations. Recently, the automaker has experimented with adding amenities to its charging stations. New cube lounges at a Supercharger station in Germany come equipped with automated coffee, food, and more. Tesla is also adding other options and fun activities for drivers to enjoy while they wait for their vehicles to charge. The newest amenity they’re currently experimenting with is an above ground swimming pool.

A clip of the pool being installed prior to launch was shared with news sources.

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The swimming pool can be used by up to 4 people at a time for 10 minutes, giving folks just enough time to change into their swim suits and enjoy a quick dip while their vehicle charges. There are even Tesla-branded beach balls to play with while they’re swimming in the shipping container style above ground pool.

This promotional popup will open at the Tesla charging station in Hilden, Germany; which incidentally is one of the largest in the country with 40 chargers and 8 superchargers. The pool will be open from Thursday until Sunday. Tesla owners can drop in for a swim from 2:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.

What do you think about this idea? Is this something you’d like to see in the United States? Sound off in the comments and let us know.

5/5 - (1 vote)

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Pool Rental App Swimply Is The New Side Hustle For Homeowners

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Pool Rental App Swimply Is The New Side Hustle For Homeowners

Pool rental marketplace Swimply has created the ultimate side hustle for homeowners. Spending upwards of $100,000 to create the ultimate luxury outdoor living area is an investment some are willing to make. This is especially true if one can be confident they will recoup that investment quickly. Renting the pool to friends and neighbors is one smart way to do just that.

The Pool Rental Concept

Pool rentals are sweeping the nation and the innovative online marketplace Swimply is leading the charge. Described as “Airbnb of swimming pools,” Swimply debuted last year. According to the firm, there are over 20,000 swimming pools in all 50 states, as well as in Canada and Australia.

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After recently raising $40M in funding from AirBnB and Lime co-founders last year, Swimply is poised for tremendous growth moving into 2023. The service has been rapidly gaining traction with consumers who are attracted by the ability to rent a swimming pool by the hour.

Renting a pool by the hour may can be very profitable. Swimply has created the marketplace for renting a pool.
Renting a pool by the hour may can be very profitable. Swimply has created the marketplace for renting a pool.

Swimply’s Business Model is Unique

In the sharing economy, Swimply, definitely deserves recognition for their offering. Providing a marketplace that allows buyers and sellers to connect and rent a pool is at the core of the company’s business plan. The model is simple, Swimply takes 15% of the booking fee from hosts and 10% from guests.

Swimply’s pool rental marketplace can be lucrative for hosts and may not be as weird as it sounds. As water recreational facilities were shut down by COVID in the last two years, Swimply has emerged to fill the vacuum. Consequently, the company has grown exponentially.

We spoke with Swimply Co-Founder and COO Asher Weinberger last year about the revolutionary new technology which is connecting homeowners with an open marketplace of consumers looking to rent a backyard for a few hours.

Listen to our conversation on the Pool Magazine podcast:

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Pool Rental Marketplace Grew 5,000% During Covid

After a soft launch back in 2019, Weinberger quickly realized that the public was elated with their offering. “There was a tremendous amount of interest and at the time we could only meet 10 to 15% of the demand,” said Weinberger. “That helped set the stage for us because we learned a lot about what people wanted and how they were using the platform.”

“We caught huge tailwinds in light of Covid and grew roughly 5,000% year over year,” said Weinberger. Since then, Swimply’s marketplace has exploded with consumers searching for a safe recreational experience with friends and loved ones in an open outdoor setting. This has been true both on the guest side and the host side.

Homeowners Look To Monetize Their Pool

It appears that word has definitely begun to spread that renting your pool is a sweet new side hustle. One man in particular recently made the news after he reportedly netted $177,000 just by renting out his pool and backyard.

Jim Battan of West Linn, Oregon, told news sources, “I love to say that the pool has paid for itself and more. I built a man cave last year, and also credit that to my Swimply pool.”

Swimply As a Side Hustle

Being a Swimply host isn’t for everyone, according to Battan. The side hustle does require a fair amount of work on the part of the host. Maintaining the pool between guests involves much more than simply setting out fresh towels. His 26-foot by 18-foot pool and its accompanying pool house has cost him roughly $37,000 in maintenance over the last decade. On a typical week, Battan estimates that he and his wife Lisa spend approximately 12 to 14 hours cleaning and testing the water’s chemicals as well as managing all of their bookings.

“I love the income, but I generally caution people from it,” Battan told reporters. “Unless you’re retired or don’t have a day job, it takes a lot of time to learn about pool chemistry and management. It’s not good enough to just rely on a once-a-week service to come out look at your stuff. I look at my pool chemicals probably five to 10 times a day.”

Renting Your Pool By The Hour Can Be Profitable

It’s also important to note that Battan’s pool represents the best-case scenario. Currently, he’s Swimply’s top earner out of 25,000 pools in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. The average host earnings are between $10,000 to $20,000 per year.

Ned Gilardino is another top earner from Aurora, Colorado who is cashing in on the lucrative side hustle. Last year he rented his pool out roughly 500 times clearing close to $50,000 in the process.

“Not only has the extra money paid for the cost of maintaining the pool,” Gilardino told news sources, “it has actually brought in an entire new revenue stream for my family.”

Pool rentals vary by price and can be filtered to meet price, features, and amenities. - Photo Credit: Swimply
Pool rentals vary by price and can be filtered to meet price, features, and amenities. – Photo Credits: Swimply

Homeowners who are looking for MSI’s (multiple sources of income) can certainly put Swimply on their list of resources. Typically most swimming pools on the platform rent between $15 and $75 an hour. However, there appears to be no limit on how much hosts can earn. We’ve seen some pools in premium areas such as Beverly Hills rent for as much as $200 an hour. Those with luxury amenities in their backyard obviously can charge towards the higher end of the spectrum.

Guests can search for an ideal backyard in their price range to throw a pool party and even filter their search to show properties that have specific amenities. Finding a backyard with a fire pit, or an outdoor grilling area, or one that allows pets, is easy. Swimply made it simple to narrow down selections with the ideal features consumers are looking for.

The interface is simple and intuitive to use on both ends. Swimply also made it super easy for homeowners to track their reservations, communicate with guests and quickly get their pool rental up in their easy-to-use marketplace.

Swimply’s Contribution To The Shared Economy

Given that public pools are closing at an alarming rate, Swimply has also started filling a gap in underserved communities, much the way Uber and other sharing economy platforms have.

While the shared economy is a young concept itself; Swimply’s arrival simply ushers something we will undoubtedly see even more of in years to come. Though unexpected and a newcomer; one thing is certain, homeowners and consumers have embraced the concept of renting a pool by the hour.

4.8/5 - (16 votes)

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Sinkhole in Swimming Pool Kills Man, Swallows Guests

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Sinkhole in Swimming Pool Kills Man, Swallows Guests

A man was found dead after being swallowed by a sinkhole that opened up in a private swimming pool. The incident transpired in Israel where authorities are still trying to figure out what caused two men to be swept away by the receding water after a sinkhole sprang up within an inground swimming pool at a private property in central Israel. One was recovered dead at the scene on Thursday afternoon.

The body was located by search crews in the town of Karmei Yosef after a four-hour recovery operation conducted by rescue personnel who were lowered deep underground. The search was hampered by concerns that tunnels extending from the sinkhole could lead to a second collapse.

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It took rescuers several hours of searching before they were able to uncover the body of the man who had gone missing. The other 34-year-old man who had been trapped for some time, was saved and treated for minor injuries to his lower body.

Rescuers worked for hours to find the missing victims body. - Photo Credits: Fire and Rescue Services
Rescuers worked for hours to find the missing victims body. – Photo Credits: Fire and Rescue Services

Employees of a private company were having a pool party when the incident occurred. About 50 people were present at the time of the accident, according to one guest.

“The water level suddenly started receding and a hole opened up, creating a vortex that swept two people inside,” the guest told news sources.

She said a sinkhole opened a vortex formed which swallowed up the victim in a matter of seconds. She yelled at her coworkers to get out of the pool as the sinkhole emerged, but they initially assumed it was a game. Authorities say, fortunately, there were only 6 people in the pool at the time or injuries and casualties could have been far greater.

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“Seconds later, the ground just dropped… I watched two people just disappear,” she added.

According to police, an investigtion into the incident is currently underway, and they plan to find out if the pool was operating with the proper license.

4/5 - (8 votes)

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