Costa Rica declared national emergency after massive hack

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If you’ve ever needed proof that cyber attacks are a very real and devastating thing, the entire country of Costa Rica has declared a national emergency after being bombarded with digital attacks. 

Bleeping Computer (opens in new tab) reports that the Costa Rican President, Rodrigo Chaves, has officially announced a state of emergency for the nation. This comes after a huge attack from the Conti ransomware group which has ties to the Wizard Spider cybercrime syndicate responsible for many attacks including malware like Ryuk which targets hospital (opens in new tab)s. Generally speaking, these are some really bad dudes who have no plans to rescue President Chaves.

After the initial attack, the offending group Conti had demanded a $10 million ransom from the Costa Rican Finance Ministry which went unpaid. In response, Conti has reportedly released 97% of the total 672 GB data stolen from the Costa Rican government. 

The Ministry of Finance is also yet to fully confirm the exact breadth of the attack, which includes what personal data from taxpayers that may have been gathered. It could well be that personal data from many Costa Rican citizens has been gathered by these bad actors. That’s a huge privacy breach potentially affecting an entire country, so it’s no surprise this state of emergency has been called.

 “The attack that Costa Rica is suffering from cybercriminals, cyberterrorists is declared a national emergency and we are signing this decree, precisely, to declare a state of national emergency in the entire public sector of the Costa Rican State and allow our society to respond to these attacks as criminal acts,” said the President, accompanied by Minister of the Presidency, Natalia Díaz, and the Minister of Science, Innovation, Technology and Telecommunications (Micitt), Carlos Alvarado.

Currently only one individual threat actor known as UNC1756 has taken responsibility for the attack. They have threatened additional attacks as ransoms have gone unpaid and has stated that these will be more serious. So there’s even more reason for Costa Rica to be especially vigilant at this time.

“We signed the decree so that the country can defend itself from the criminal attack that cybercriminals are making us. That is an attack on the Homeland and we signed the decree to have a better way of defending ourselves,” said President Chaves.

Though bad news for many, the United States government is offering a $10 million dollar reward for information that may help identify or locate those responsible for the attacks. A further $5 million is on offer if this leads to arrest or conviction. At this point, it could be more immediately lucrative for UNC1756 to turn themselves in. We certainly recommend it, at least.

Once again this is proof that attacks like these are far from a thing of the past. Ransomware is still cropping up in emails (opens in new tab) and all sorts to catch people unawares, and things may only get worse once quantum computing really takes off (opens in new tab).

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