TIMES.KY

Cayman Islands, Caribbeanand International News
Thursday, Apr 18, 2024

Cyber attack causes chaos in Costa Rica government systems

Cyber attack causes chaos in Costa Rica government systems

Nearly a week into a ransomware attack that has crippled Costa Rican government computer systems, the country refused to pay a ransom as it struggled to implement workarounds and braced itself as hackers began publishing stolen information.
The Russian-speaking Conti gang claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Costa Rican government had not confirmed its origin.

The Finance Ministry was the first to report problems Monday. A number of its systems have been affected from tax collection to importation and exportation processes through the customs agency. Attacks on the social security agency’s human resources system and on the Labor Ministry, as well as others followed.

The initial attack forced the Finance Ministry to shut down for several hours the system responsible for the payment of a good part of the country’s public employees, which also handles government pension payments. It also has had to grant extensions for tax payments.

Conti had not published a specific ransom amount, but Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado said, “The Costa Rican state will not pay anything to these cybercriminals.” A figure of $10 million circulated on social media platforms, but did not appear on Conti’s site.

Costa Rican businesses fretted over confidential information provided to the government that could be published and used against them, while average citizens worried that personal financial information could be used to clean out their bank accounts.

Christian Rucavado, executive director of Costa Rica’s Exporters Chamber, said the attack on the customs agency had collapsed the country’s import and export logistics. He described a race against the clock for perishable items waiting in cold storage and said they still didn’t have an estimate for the economic losses. Trade was still moving, but much more slowly.

“Some borders have delays because they’re doing the process manually,” Rucavado said. “We have asked the government for various actions like expanding hours so they can attend to exports and imports.”

He said normally Costa Rica exports a daily average of $38 million in products.

Allan Liska, an intelligence analyst with security firm Recorded Future, said that Conti was pursuing a double extortion: encrypting government files to freeze agencies’ ability to function and posting stolen files to the group’s extortion sites on the dark web if a ransom wasn’t paid.

The first part can often be overcome if the systems have good backups, but the second is trickier depending on the sensitivity of the stolen data, he said.

Conti typically rents out its ransomware infrastructure to “affiliates” who pay for the service. The affiliate attacking Costa Rica could be anywhere in the world, Liska said.

A year ago, a Conti ransomware attack forced Ireland’s health system to shut down its information technology system, cancelling appointments, treatments and surgeries.

Last month, Conti pledged its services in support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The move angered cybercriminals sympathetic to Ukraine. It also prompted a security researcher who had long been surveilling Conti to leak a massive trove of internal communications among some Conti operators.

Asked why Central America’s most stable democracy, known for its tropical wildlife and beaches, would be a target of hackers, Liska said the motivation usually has more to do with weaknesses. “They’re looking for specific vulnerabilities,” he said. “So the most likely explanation is that Costa Rica had a number of vulnerabilities and one of the ransomware actors discovered these vulnerabilities and was able to exploit it.”

Brett Callow, a ransomware analyst at Emsisoft, said he looked at one of the leaked files from the Costa Rican finance ministry and “there doesn’t seem to be much doubt that the data is legit.”

On Friday, Conti’s extortion site indicated it had published 50% of the stolen data. It said it included more than 850 gigabytes of material from Finance Ministry and other institutions’ databases. “This is all ideal for phishing, we wish our colleagues from Costa Rica good luck in monetizing this data,” it said.

That seemed to contradict Alvarado’s assertion that the attack was not about money.

“My opinion is that this attack is not a money issue, but rather looks to threaten the country’s stability in a transition point,” he said, referring to his outgoing administration and the swearing in of Costa Rica’s new president May 8. “They will not achieve it.”

Alvarado did allude to the possibility that the attack was motivated by Costa Rica’s public rejection of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “You also can’t separate it from the complex global geopolitical situation in a digitalized world,” he said.
Newsletter

Related Articles

TIMES.KY
0:00
0:00
Close
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Israel: Unprecedented Civil Disobedience Looms as IDF Reservists Protest Judiciary Reform
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
Europe is boiling: Extreme Weather Conditions Prevail Across the Continent
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Italian Court's Controversial Ruling on Sexual Harassment Ignites Uproar
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
BBC Personalities Rebuke Accusations Amidst Scandal Involving Teen Exploitation
A Swift Disappointment: Why Is Taylor Swift Bypassing Canada on Her Global Tour?
Historic Moment: Edgars Rinkevics, EU's First Openly Gay Head of State, Takes Office as Latvia's President
Bye bye democracy, human rights, freedom: French Cops Can Now Secretly Activate Phone Cameras, Microphones And GPS To Spy On Citizens
The Poor Man With Money, Mark Zuckerberg, Unveils Twitter Replica with Heavy-Handed Censorship: A New Low in Innovation?
Unilever Plummets in a $2.5 Billion Free Fall, to begin with: A Reckoning for Misuse of Corporate Power Against National Interest
Beyond the Blame Game: The Need for Nuanced Perspectives on America's Complex Reality
Twitter Targets Meta: A Tangle of Trade Secrets and Copycat Culture
The Double-Edged Sword of AI: AI is linked to layoffs in industry that created it
US Sanctions on China's Chip Industry Backfire, Prompting Self-Inflicted Blowback
Meta Copy Twitter with New App, Threads
The New French Revolution
BlackRock Bitcoin ETF Application Refiled, Naming Coinbase as ‘Surveillance-Sharing’ Partner
×