Ransomware attack news of Jackson County n Columbia Surgical Specialists

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Despite FBI’s warning that those attacked by ransomware should not bow down to the demands of hackers to free up their data from encryption, some of the IT specialists from Jackson County are reported to have gone against the decision by paying $400,000 to cybercriminals to free up a ransomware infection from their IT systems.

News is out that the internal network of Jackson County was targeted by the said malware on March 1st,2019 locking down access to email systems and critical data. The impact was severe as most of the local government’s IT systems including the official website and 911 emergency system went offline for many hours.

Although the emergency systems and the official website were brought back to life after 5 hours, others couldn’t be brought online on time due to reasons.

After taking suggestions from a Cybersecurity consultant, the county officials decided to pay the hackers $400,000 to get a decryption key for the locked files.

Kevin Poe the County Manager admitted this news and said that the ransomware that infected the county’s network was RYUK which as of now has no open source decryption key.

Security experts say that Ryuk is usually deployed on networks after Emotet and Trickbot malware infect the machine for weeks. A hacking group from Eastern Europe is suspected to be behind the ransomware spread.

In other news related to ransomware payment, the owners of Columbia Surgical Specialists which is located in Spokane, Washington released a press statement today saying that their IT staff paid hackers more than $14,000 to regain access to patient data.

However, the healthcare services provider specified in its statement that the ransomware attack occurred on January 9th,2019- just a few hours before several patients were scheduled for surgery. And they paid to the cyber criminals on January 11th after a series of discussions with the staff and cybersecurity experts.

Cybersecurity Insiders has learned that the encrypted files and systems at Columbia Surgical Specialists include protected health info such as patient names and social security numbers.

Note 1- As the payment was made by the healthcare practice’s owners, it will not be passed on to the patients.

Note 2- On Feb 18th this year, Columbia Surgical Specialists reported to the government database i.e HHS Office for Civil Rights that up to 400,000 patients of the healthcare were affected by the incident. However, after a preliminary inquiry, the practice learned that the affected patients were substantially smaller.