- After encrypting data, cybercriminals demand payment through bitcoins
- FIR registered at Cybercrime, Economic offences and Narcotics (CEN) Police Station
Mysore/Mysuru: Cyberattacks on healthcare systems have spiked during the pandemic, threatening patient care and private data. While many such cases have been reported from other parts of the State, probably for the first time, a reputed private hospital in the city has been targeted by ransomware attackers.
Recently, the hospital employees who were operating computers for day-to-day operations complained of strange computer access problems. Concerned, team members started looking for signs of malicious software and found a file with instructions to contact the perpetrators of the cyberattack.
Using ransomware, which is malware that encrypts hospital data until a ransom is paid, the people behind the attack held hostage the data and asked payment through bitcoins. The hospital authorities realised that their main financial server and patient data were hacked into and the message was left behind seeking payment in the bitcoin.
Fortunately the hospital had a data backup in hard disks and nothing much was lost. Functions at the healthcare unit have resumed now with the back-up data. The hospital’s chief security officer has lodged a complaint at Cybercrime, Economic offences and Narcotics (CEN) Police Station in Nazarbad.
Confirming this to Star of Mysore this morning, City Police Commissioner Dr. Chandragupta said that the FIR was registered at CEN Police Station on Nov. 19 under Inspector Shekhar and the team is involved in the investigation.
“We have heard of such ransomware attacks from elsewhere but this is for the first time such an incident has been reported in Mysuru and that too in a reputed hospital,” he said. The team is looking into the complaint as per procedure, he added.
The modus operandi is to target the data with ransomware and malware that encrypts an infected device and any attached devices or network drives. After encryption, cybercriminals demand a ransom before releasing the devices from encoding. If adequate disaster recovery and backup plans are not made, many businesses are forced to pay the ransom to get the release of the devices from encoding.
These ransoms are most often requested in the form of bitcoins, a type of cryptocurrency. When using bitcoins, transactions are irreversible and the owner of a particular bitcoin account can remain anonymous.
Because of the ability of bitcoin to make transactions accessible while protecting the anonymity of those involved, it has become the preferred currency for criminal activity including that of ransomware hackers.