Computers

Costa Rica declares emergency after gov’t systems hit by notorious hacker gang

Costa Rica declares emergency after gov't systems hit by notorious hacker gang
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Authorities said that a user linked to Conti, one of the world’s most active ransomware gangs, claimed responsibility for the attack on a dark web site. File Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA

May 12 (UPI) — Officials have declared a state of emergency in Costa Rica after government computers there were targeted by a crippling ransomware attack, authorities said.

Investigators said that hackers tapped into the country’s finance ministry computer system a month ago and the attack quickly spread to other areas, including government science, technology and telecommunications infrastructure and Costa Rica’s National Meteorological Institute.

“The government has been really, really affected,” Leon Weinstok, director of Costa Rican law firm BLP, said according to NBC News. “It is impossible to quantify the losses at this time.”

New Costa Rican President Rodrigo Chaves Robles, who took office this week, said that there are many cybercriminals and cyberterrorists in the Central American nation.

The hackers who breached the systems had attempted to extort the Costa Rican government and former President Carlos Alvarado out of $10 million, officials said.

Authorities said that a user linked to Conti, one of the world’s most active ransomware gangs, claimed responsibility for the attack on a dark web site. Last week, the US State Department offered a $10 million reward for information leading to perpetrators associated with Conti.

“[This] The ransomware group has been responsible for hundreds of ransomware incidents over the past two years,” department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Price added that federal investigators believe there have been more than 1,000 cyberattacks worldwide worth $150 million associated with Conti, and that the group is behind the “costliest strain of ransomware ever documented.”

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