Interpol warns that cybercriminals have stepped up their efforts to spread ransomware viruses in hospital information systems in order to obtain large ransoms in cryptocurrency.
The international criminal police organization said it has detected a significant increase in the number of attempts to attack ransomware viruses on key organizations involved in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts files on victims ‘ devices. The criminals then demand a ransom, usually in cryptocurrencies, in exchange for a key to unlock the system. Interpol sent a warning to 194 member countries, in which it said that the number of such attacks is growing, bringing criminals more than $1 billion a year.
“As hospitals and medical organizations around the world continuously fight the coronavirus, they have become a target for ruthless cybercriminals who seek to profit at the expense of sick patients,” said jürgen Stock, the organization’s Secretary General. “Blocking hospital data and their critical systems will reduce the speed of medical response, which is so important in these difficult times, and this can lead to the death of patients.”
It appears that ransomware viruses are spread through emails falsely claiming to contain information from government agencies. As soon as the user clicks on the link, the virus searches for software vulnerabilities to replicate across the network and infect other vulnerable computers. The virus then encrypts the files and tells the user that they must pay a ransom to unlock them.
Recall that, as Europol reported last fall, ransomware viruses remain the most popular type of cyber attacks. In addition, according to a study by the Federal Bureau of investigation, over six years, fraudsters using ransomware received a total of $144 million in BTC from their victims.
In October, online operations in the Spanish city of Jerez de La Frontera were suspended as a result of an attack by hackers who demanded a ransom in BTC for unblocking the city’s computer systems. In June last year, the authorities of the American city of lake city paid ransomware in the amount of 42 BTC, and a little earlier, the administration of the city of Riviera beach paid 65 BTC to unknown hackers who managed to take control of the city’s computer system.