The Cruel Hackers Responsible for Ransomware Attacks on US Hospitals

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Multiple attacks were carried out in recent months against U.S. hospitals, suspending some surgeries, delaying medical care and costing hospitals millions of dollars.

A ransomware attack on a national hospital chain nearly brought Las Vegas hospitals to their knees. Another attack in Oregon abruptly shut down alerts tied to patient monitors tracking vital signs. In New York, one county’s only trauma center briefly closed to ambulances, with the nearest alternative 90 miles away.

The Wall Street Journal tracked the most disruptive attacks to one group: a notorious gang of Eastern European cybercriminals once called the “Business Club,” with ties to Russian government security services, according to threat analysts and former law-enforcement officials who closely follow Eastern European cybercrime operations.

Now known by many researchers as Ryuk, after its signature software, it is the most prolific ransomware gang in the world, accounting for one-third of the 203 million U.S. ransomware attacks in 2020, according to cybersecurity firm SonicWall. Ryuk ransomware collected at least $100 million in paid ransom last year, according to the bitcoin analysis firm Chainalysis.

The group targets large organizations with deep resources, breaking into their networks and installing malicious software that locks every file on every computer with an encryption key, essentially an uncrackable password. Ryuk routinely extracts six- and seven-figure payments from victims in exchange for revealing the encryption key, according to security companies tracking the group.

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