Currently, several hospitals in the United States are affected by ransomware attacks. The FBI, but also other agencies calls for vigilance when other attacks could occur. According to these agencies, a Russian botnet is an origin.
Ransomware attack 2020: Dozens of hospitals targeted
The Covid-19 pandemic is currently increasing in intensity around the world. The United States now reports more than 9 million cases for about 230,000 deaths. An article from the Reuters news agency on October 28, 2020, recounts a note prepared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) as well as the Department of Health and Human Services. According to the document, the Russian botnet Trickbot is behind ransomware attacks targeting several hospitals in the country. The malware paralyzes a system by encrypting all of its files before demanding a ransom. After receiving the ransom payment in cryptocurrency, the hackers deliver the decryption keys.
In just a week, the ransomware has hit hospitals in Oregon, California, and New York. According to Allan Liska, a cybersecurity expert for the company Recorded Future, this is an attack aimed at disrupting hospitals across the country. According to the person concerned, this type of attack would target dozens of hospitals, so that other attacks are to be feared. Naturally, the authors of the note call for vigilance.
Ransomware Attack today Possible deaths
Reuters gave the floor to a doctor whose hospital was the victim of an attack. The professional explains that the establishment staff must now use paper and pencil. While it is still possible to perform imaging examinations, the results are however only communicated on paper. Unfortunately, there is more to it. Indeed, the doctor cannot transfer patients, the closest hospital to his being about an hour away.
It is possible that the Wizard Spider group (or UNC 1878) is behind these attacks. Charles Carmakal, technical director of cybersecurity company Mandiant, said this group was one of the “brazenness, cruelest and most unsettling” he had seen in his career. However, the giant Microsoft had recently announced that it had succeeded in neutralizing the Trickbot botnet in anticipation of the presidential elections. Nevertheless, it seems that the latter is once again active and in great shape.
Either way, this wave of cyberattacks is worrying. For the authorities, this could indirectly cause deaths in the event of the disorganization of hospitals. However, the fact is that the current Covid-19 pandemic is already a source of tension in these establishments. In September 2020, a hospital in Düsseldorf (Germany) victim of a similar attack was unable to operate on one of its patients. She died during her transfer to another health center.