Federal Bureau of Investigation warns hospitals of 'increased and imminent' ransomware threat

30 Octobre, 2020, 02:36 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
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In the past, ransomware infections at hospitals have downed patient record-keeping databases, which critically store up-to-date medical information, affecting hospitals´ ability to provide healthcare.

The FBI, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security and known as CISA, said hackers were targeting the sector, "often leading to ransomware attacks, data theft and the disruption of health-care services", according to an advisory.

In particular, the agencies warn about the use of Ryuk ransomware and according to the alert, allow for the hacker to freeze computer systems until a monetary amount is paid.

The warning comes as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge across the country.

Ransomware attacks have jumped 50 per cent over the past three months, security firm Check Point said, with the proportion of polled healthcare organisations affected jumping to 4 per cent in the third quarter from 2.3 per cent in the previous quarter.

Increasingly, ransomware criminals are stealing data from their targets before encrypting networks, using it for extortion.

"UNC 1878 is one of the most brazen, heartless, and disruptive threat actors I've observed over my career", said Mr Charles Carmakal, senior vice-president for United States cyber-incident response firm Mandiant.

The agencies say they have "credible information of an increased and imminent cybercrime threat to USA hospitals and healthcare providers", by threat actors using Trickbot malware.

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The group, which FireEye calls UNC1878, has been deploying Ryuk ransomware and taking multiple hospital IT networks offline, said Charles Carmakal, senior vice president of Mandiant, FireEye's incident response arm.

Attackers using Trickbot malware, which is also cited in the federal advisory, claimed Monday in private communications channel to have attacked more than 400 hospitals in the US, said Alex Holden, the founder of the cyber investigations firm Hold Security.

Experts at the cybersecurity firm FireEye said the latest spate of attacks were carried out by cyberattackers in Eastern Europe seeking financial gain.

Noncriminals running these malware and ransomware operations are known to embellish their achievements, he said.

The announcement coincides with multiple reported ransomware incidents, including an attack earlier this week on Oregon-based Sky Lakes Medical Center.

Healthcare institutions have been frequent victims of ransomware for several years in the USA and globally. However, the emails can contain malicious Google Docs, typically in the form of a PDF file, that contains a link to malware.

For your security, we've sent a confirmation email to the address you entered. The use of multiple links, as well as PDF files, can help trick email filters created to spot simpler phishing tactics.

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