U.S. law enforcement warn of regular, regionally disruptive threats that could impact the delivery of patient care
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has issued an alert regarding “Conti,” a highly disruptive ransomware variant. Attacks associated with Conti and the previously published Darkside ransomware variant are believed to be emanating from criminal networks operating from a non-cooperative foreign jurisdiction.
The FBI says it identified at least 16 Conti ransomware attacks targeting U.S. health care and first responder networks, including law enforcement agencies, emergency medical services, 911 dispatch centers and municipalities within the last year.
Ransomware attacks associated with these variants have resulted in regionally disruptive impacts to critical infrastructure, including hospitals and health systems in the United States and Ireland. Most recently, hospitals in New Zealand have been hit by disruptive ransomware attacks.
These ransomware attacks have delayed or disrupted the delivery of patient care and pose significant potential risks to patient safety and the communities that rely on hospitals’ availability.
The American Hospital Association (AHA) remains concerned about cyberattacks with the potential to disrupt patient care and jeopardize patient safety. As stated in our testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee in December 2020, the AHA believes that a ransomware attack on a hospital or health system crosses the line from an economic crime to a threat-to-life crime.
The AHA acknowledges and commends the U.S. government’s efforts to share timely and actionable cyber-threat intelligence. However, relying on victimized organizations to individually defend themselves against these attacks is not the solution to this national strategic threat. The vast majority of these attacks originate from outside the United States, often beyond the reach of U.S. law enforcement, where ransomware gangs are provided safe harbor and allowed to operate with impunity, sometimes with the active assistance of adversarial nations.
In response, the AHA has urged the government to embark upon a coordinated campaign that will use all diplomatic, financial, law enforcement, intelligence and military cyber capabilities to disrupt these criminal organizations and seize their illegal proceeds, as was done so effectively during the global fight against terrorism.