Australia Who are the hackers behind Queensland's healthcare provider attack?

00:16  06 may  2021
00:16  06 may  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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The World Health Organization is a vital hub for advice, research, factual reports and response coordination during the coronavirus pandemic. That it should be the target of cyber attacks during a time of crisis is , frankly, reprehensible. The attack seems to have started when hackers , thought to be DarkHotel by anonymous sources briefed by Reuters regarding the matter but not confirmed by Urbelis, established a fake site that impersonated the internal email system used by the WHO . This site went live on March 13, but Urbelis was already tracking the hackers and their domain registration

The attacks on American hospitals, clinics and medical complexes are intended to take those facilities offline and hold their data hostage in exchange for multimillion-dollar ransom payments, just as coronavirus cases spike across the United States. Some hospitals in New York State and on the West Coast reported cyberattacks in recent days, though it was not clear whether they were part of the attacks , and hospital officials emphasized that critical patient care was not affected.

a close up of a screen: The hackers have claimed to have made more than $100 million from their attacks on companies. (Four Corners: Cyber War) © Provided by ABC NEWS The hackers have claimed to have made more than $100 million from their attacks on companies. (Four Corners: Cyber War)

Hackers claiming responsibility for an attack on health and community care provider UnitingCare Queensland have been revealed as one of the most notorious cyber ransom gangs in the world.

Last week, the Queensland healthcare provider fell victim to the cyber attack, which affected its hospitals and aged care homes.

It runs the Wesley and St Andrew's Hospitals in Brisbane, St Stephen's Hospital in Hervey Bay and the Buderim Private Hospital on the Sunshine Coast, and dozens of aged care and disability services throughout the state.

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Several hospitals across the United States have been targeted in ransomware attacks in what appears to be an escalation and expansion of similar attacks previously launched on other hospitals and medical facilities.

Officials for DCH Health System told Tuscaloosa News that the organization paid the hackers . DCH Health System said in a statement that a decryption key was obtained and that teams are working to restore its systems. " Healthcare is a particularly tricky area for ransomware," Liska, the researcher who tracks the attacks , told CNN. "Many healthcare systems are locked down by vendors, so healthcare systems often can't be patched in the same way other sectors can patch.

UnitingCare Queensland has released scant information about the attack, but it is thought to involve hackers trying to take possession of systems or important information like patient records and threatening to either destroy or publish them on the dark web, unless the provider pays a ransom.

So who was behind the attack?

UnitingCare on Wednesday confirmed the hack had been claimed by REvil/Sodin — a gang that has been linked to multiple attacks on high profile targets across the globe and is thought to have named itself after an apocalyptic science fiction horror movie titled Resident Evil.

The hackers have claimed to have made more than $100 million from their cyber attacks but confirming ransom amounts is difficult as victims do not publicise payments.

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The FBI actually warned health - care providers that they needed to up their digital defenses in April of 2014. "The healthcare industry is not as resilient to cyber intrusions compared to the financial and retail sectors, therefore the possibility of increased cyber intrusions is likely," said a private notice the FBI distributed But, unfortunately, that awareness is just part of the problem. Even once an organization has committed the funds to build up their digital defenses, it can be difficult to plot the best path forward, according to Johnson, because it takes time to figure out which tools to put in place and whom to hire.

This personal data often contains information regarding a patient' s medical history, which could be used in targeted spear-phishing attacks and hackers are able to access this data via network-connected medical devices, now standard in high-tech hospitals. This is opening up new possibilities for If a device is connected to the internet and left vulnerable to attack , an attacker could remotely connect to it and use it as gateways for attacking network security The majority of healthcare organizations have often been shown to fail basic security practices, such as disabling concurrent login to multiple

Have there been other victims?

Yes, including major health providers in the United States, the Apple company and a New York law firm, which boasted clients like Madonna and Elton John.

In the widely reported attack on Apple last month, REvil group, which is thought to have Russia origins or connections, claimed to have hacked an Apple supplier called Quanta and threatened to release sensitive internal documents unless a $50 million ransom was paid.

How was UnitingCare affected?

UnitingCare Queensland's corporate affairs director Matthew Cuming said as a result, some of the organisation's digital and technology systems had been left inaccessible.

But Mr Cuming said at this time there was no evidence the health and safety of patients, residents or clients had been compromised as a result of the cyber incident.

"With the assistance of leading experts and advisors, we are conducting a thorough investigation into whether patient, client, resident or employee information has been breached,'' said Mr Cuming in an email.

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Making things worse, healthcare providers often struggle to find room in tight budgets to invest in new IT systems, leaving them vulnerable. “Compliance issues are commonplace in healthcare too, where organizations need to meet stringent requirements of governing bodies such as HIPAA,” Carlisle adds. And despite changing healthcare data deployments, many organizations remain stubbornly focused on network and endpoint security, says Carlisle.

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"The investigation is continuing and we will continue to keep the people we care for updated in this regard, in addition to employees, regulators and other stakeholders."

Mr Cuming said employees had continued to be paid on time as usual.

"However, if any pay issues do occur we have established an employee payroll hotline and rapid payment system to address these issues,'' he said.

He confirmed some systems had already been reinstated but was unable to say how long it would take to resolve all the issues.

Last week the ABC revealed UnitingCare had been cut off from the Commonwealth's My Health Record system as a result of the hacking.

A spokesperson for the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA), which oversees the My Health Record system said it had stopped UnitingCare Queensland's access as a precautionary measure.

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usr: 9
This is interesting!