US authorities claim that as of November, Hive ransomware has been used to extort $100 million from more than 1,300 businesses worldwide, many of which were in the healthcare industry.
On the dark web, where Hive identified its victims, there was a post-Thursday saying that the FBI, Secret Service, and various European government agencies had taken control of the site “as part of a coordinated law enforcement action” against the gang.
Simply put, we “hacked the hackers” using legal methods, according to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. In the healthcare industry, the Hive ransomware has been highly pervasive.
According to Attorney General Merrick Garland, a ransomware attack utilizing the malicious software Hive in August 2021 prompted a hospital in the US Midwest to turn away patients as Covid-19 soared.
One of the other Hive victim organizations in the US is a 314-bed hospital in Louisiana. The hospital claimed to have stopped a ransomware attack in October, but the thieves still managed to steal the personal information of close to 270,000 patients.
According to Errol Weiss, chief security officer for the Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center, hospital patients are among our most vulnerable demographic, and Hive threatened their safety and health. This group shares cyber threat information for major global healthcare providers. “People can die when hospitals are attacked, and medical systems fail.”
The Justice Department’s announcement on Thursday is the most recent in a string of initiatives to combat foreign ransomware groups that lock up computers of US businesses, interfere with their operations, and demand millions of dollars to unlock the systems.
Government law enforcement officers have confiscated millions of dollars in ransomware payments and warned businesses not to compensate the offenders.
After Colonial Pipeline, the leading pipeline operator for delivering fuel to the East Coast was forced to shut down for days in May 2021 due to a ransomware attack by a suspected Russian cybercriminal, the ransomware epidemic became more critical for US authorities. Long lineups formed at petrol stations across several states due to the interruption as individuals stored fuel.
Despite the lucrative nature of the ransomware market, there are indications that US and foreign law enforcement operations are impacting hackers’ profits.
According to data from cryptocurrency tracking company Chainalysis, ransomware revenue decreased from $766 million in 2021 to around $457 million in 2022. Cybersecurity experts cheered the defeat of Hive, but others were concerned that another organization might soon step in to take Hive’s place.
According to John Hultquist, a vice president at Google-owned cybersecurity company Mandiant, “the disruption of the Hive service won’t create a substantial decline in overall ransomware activity, but it is a blow to a dangerous gang that has endangered lives by attacking the healthcare system.”
A Hive competitor will be ready to provide a comparable service in their absence due to the criminal marketplace at the core of the ransomware problem. However, according to Hultquist, they might think twice before using their malware to attack hospitals.
Wray promised that the FBI would keep looking for the Hive ransomware’s authors and make attempts to apprehend them. It was not immediately apparent where those individuals were.
Hive has been identified by the Department of Health and Human Services as a group that “may speak Russian.” According to US sources, the FBI has taken control of the computer network used by an infamous ransomware gang that has extorted more than $100 million from hospitals, schools, and other victims worldwide.
According to FBI Director Christopher Wray at a news conference, FBI officials have had special access to the computer networks of the so-called Hive ransomware group since July.
This has allowed the bureau to provide computer “keys” to victims so they can decrypt their systems and avoid paying the ransom of $130 million.
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