Costa Rica Declares A State Of Emergency Following Cyber Attacks

President Rodrigo Chaves of Costa Rica has declared a National State of Emergency due to an attack on government systems perpetrated by Russian-speaking cyber criminals. 

The attack began in April when the finance ministry was the first to report that a number of its systems were affected, including tax collection and customs. Attacks also targeted the social security agency’s human resources system and Ministry of Labour.

The hackers initially broke into the Finance Ministry on April 12, it said. They were able to spread to other agencies, including the Ministry of Science, Technology and Telecommunications and the National Meteorological Institute.

The Conti cyber crime group which has links to the Russian state, claimed responsibility for the incident. It is believed to be extorting the Costa Rica government for millions after rendering IT systems across several ministries and threatening to publish stolen data online. This included severely impacting the country’s foreign trade by disrupting its customs and taxes platforms.

The Conti group has since reportedly leaked 97% of the stolen data and is aiming to extort millions from the government by publishing stolen data online as well as rendering IT systems unusable across several ministries.
It is currently unclear whether there is any political motivation behind the attacks or if it is purely financial.
And recently the US State Department offered a $10 million reward for information leading to the identification or location of Conti leaders.

The Costa Rican government has not reported an expansion of the attack, but some systems, especially at the Finance Ministry, still are not functioning normally. The government has also not made an estimate of the losses caused by the attack. The previous President of Costa Rica Carlos Alvarado was in office when the attacks began and he said Costa Rica would not pay the gang any ransom.

In a statement, the US State Department said the Conti group had been responsible for hundreds of ransomware incidents during the past two years. “The FBI estimates that as of January 2022, there had been over 1,000 victims of attacks associated with Conti ransomware with victim payouts exceeding $150,000,000, making the Conti Ransomware variant the costliest strain of ransomware ever documented.”

ABC:     USNews:     NBC:     Infosecurity Magazine:  Bleeping Computer:   Guardian:   Sky:    Sababa Security

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