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This has been an unprecedented year with a contentious presidential election, a global pandemic, and now a never before seen attack against the U.S. healthcare system. The FBI, on Wed. Oct. 28, 2020, confirmed cybercriminals had targeted U.S. hospitals demanding ransoms in excess of $10 million. A couple of federal agencies and the FBI state their sources are credible.
Charles Carmakal, chief technical officer of the cybersecurity firm Mandiant, stated:
We are experiencing the most significant cyber security threat we’ve ever seen in the United States.
This existential threat comes amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed over 220,000 lives and affected 9 million others in America. The FBI reports evidence of stolen data and disruption in healthcare services. Hospitals affected by the cyber intrusion are forced to write down notes and records.
This antiquated system of documentation slows down reporting making it less efficient for administration to communicate time-sensitive information. According to the FBI, monitoring equipment and the wait time in hospital ER’s have also been negatively affected. Last month in Germany, ransomware reportedly contributed to the death of a patient who was not routed to a nearby hospital.
All two hundred Fifty facilities in the U.S. hospital chain, Universal Health Services, were attacked by ransomware in September 2020. This year at least 510 medical facilities have been affected.
Alex Holden, CEO of Hold Security, confirmed chatter on the dark web anticipates a spike in the number of targeted hospitals.
According to Holden, on Friday, he informed the FBI about threats against multiple hospitals. The FBI did not provide an immediate comment.
The Russian speaking criminal gang responsible for these attacks has been identified as UNC1878. Holden believes the Russian government is aware of this deliberate attack, but there is no proof there is a connection between Russia’s government and the perpetrators. The cybercriminals use Ryuk, ransomware that jumbles data, which requires software keys in exchange for payment of multi-million dollar ransoms.
The FBI has not confirmed if money is the only motivating factor behind these attacks. U.S. officials are concerned about ransomware affecting the 2020 presidential election.
Written by Sheree Bynum
AP: FBI warns ransomware assault threatens US healthcare system; Frank Bajak
The New York Times: Covid in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Pixabay – Creative Commons License