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Hospitals Hit by Ransomware During Coronavirus Pandemic

Cybercriminals have no integrity, and the fact that they are currently launching crypto and malware attacks against healthcare institutions proves that once more.

There have been several devastating ransomware attacks amidst the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Some of the attacked facilities are not only taking care of patients with respiratory complications but also serving as virus-testing labs. Attacks against these facilities further convolute a situation which is already severe enough for governments to handle around the world.

Illinois Public Health District Hit by Netwalker Ransomware

The operators of Netwalker ransomware also known as MailTo recently launched an attack against the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD), which servers approximately 210,000 people in central Illinois. “We are working to get our website up and running,” the organization said via its Facebook page on Thursday, later announcing that the website had already been restored. According to a spokeswoman, it has been confirmed that the organization’s system was attacked by Netwalker ransomware.

Despite the quick restoration of the website, a complete recovery of CUPHD could take weeks. On Sunday, the organization confirmed the first local case of COVID-19.

NetWalker ransomware is a variant of the Mailto Ransomware family. The .mailto file extension along with an email address is attached as the extension to all of encrypted files, making them inaccessible. All encrypted files will receive the new extension as a secondary one. The NetWalker ransomware drops a ransom note, which gives instructions to victims on how they can allegedly restore their data by paying a ransom fee. Here’s more about the Netwalker ransomware, plus information on what to do if you have been infected by it.

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University Hospital Brno Suffers Unknown Malware Attack

Last Friday, University Hospital Brno suffered an attack related to an undisclosed and yet-to-be-identified strain of malware. The hospital is running the country’s largest Coronavirus testing labs. According to a statement by National Office for Cyber and Information Security, a team of cybersecurity specialists from the government’s computer emergency readiness team has been dispatched, together with police, to assist the hospital with its recovery efforts, reported InfoRiskToday.

The Brno hospital was forced to deactivate all IT systems and cancel all planned operations and divert incoming patients to the city’s St. Anne’s University Hospital. According to ZDNet, the hospital’s two other branches, a children’s hospital and a Maternity Hospital, were also hit.

Laboratories for hematology, microbiology and biochemistry – and more sophisticated laboratories for tumor diagnostics and radiological systems – are still working, but there is no ability to transfer information from these laboratories to the patient database system,” said Jaroslav Štěrba, the hospital’s director. “We are able to examine patients, but we are not yet able to store data. But patient care is being maintained and we are working to be able to store the data soon,” he added.

Cybersecurity experts are warning that these attacks could continue, because cybercriminals are ruthless and tend to exploit critical events such as the Coronavirus outbreak.

Milena Dimitrova

An inspired writer and content manager who has been with SensorsTechForum since the project started. A professional with 10+ years of experience in creating engaging content. Focused on user privacy and malware development, she strongly believes in a world where cybersecurity plays a central role. If common sense makes no sense, she will be there to take notes. Those notes may later turn into articles! Follow Milena @Milenyim

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