Maryland Department of Health Confirms Ransomware Attack That Caused Problems with COVID Dashboard


The Maryland Department of Health confirmed on Wednesday that a ransomware attack caused problems with the state’s COVID dashboard.

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The health ministry says the attack was discovered quickly in early December. Authorities attempted to quickly identify and isolate the attack so that it did not spread.

Ransomware typically occurs when hackers take hold of an organization’s computer system and lock down the organization, allowing them to come back if they pay a ransom. Maryland said it had not paid the ransom.

Mark Lanterman, who is not affiliated with Maryland, is the technical director of Computer Forensic Services and has spent 28 years working in the cybersecurity field for the US government.

READ MORE: Maryland Gov. Hogan: 30-day state of emergency activated amid COVID-19 outbreak

Lanterman echoed what the Maryland Department of Health said in its statement: that healthcare systems and providers are critical infrastructure targeted during the pandemic.

“The reason hackers target hackers and healthcare providers is that there is now an emergency, because we are talking about people’s lives, we are talking about people’s health,” Lanterman explains.

Lanterman welcomes Maryland’s response to this, especially by not paying the ransom.

“You identify yourself as a victim who is willing to pay the ransom, and she will come back for more. Just paying the ransom doesn’t make you best friends. Second, you are funding cyber terrorism. By paying the ransom, this money is going to pay computer programmers to write the next generation of cyberattack tools that will be used against us, ”Lanterman said.

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The state says 95% of the system is back. The FBI is involved in the investigation.

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