FBI Foils Cyberattack On Children’s Hospital

The Federal Department of Investigation (FBI) thwarted a planned cyber attack on a children’s hospital in Boston that was to be carried out by hackers sponsored by the Iranian government, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Wednesday. Wray told a Boston College cybersecurity conference that his agents learned of the digital attack planned by an unspecified intelligence partner and gave Boston Children’s Hospital the information it needed last summer to block what would have been “one of the most the most despicable cyberattacks I’ve ever seen.” “And the swift actions of everyone involved, especially at the hospital, protected both the network and the sick children who depended on it,” Wray said. The FBI chief recounted that anecdote in a broader speech about ongoing cyber threats from Russia, China and Iran and the need for partnerships between the US government and the private sector. He said the office and Boston Children’s Hospital had worked closely together after a hacktivist attacked the hospital’s computer network in 2014. Martin Gottesfeld launched a cyberattack on the hospital to protest the care of a teenage boy at the center of a high-profile custody battle and was later sentenced to 10 years in prison. The attack on the hospital and a treatment home cost the facility tens of thousands of dollars and disrupted operations for days. “Children’s and our Boston office knew each other well, before the Iran attack, and that made all the difference,” Wray said. He did not attribute a particular motive for the planned attack on the hospital, but pointed out that Iran and other countries have been hiring cyber mercenaries to carry out attacks on his behalf. When it comes to Russia, he said, the FBI is “scrambling” to warn potential targets about preparatory actions hackers are taking for destructive attacks. In March, for example, the FBI warned that it was seeing increased hacker interest in energy companies since the start of Russia’s war against Ukraine. Meanwhile, Chinese hackers have stolen more corporate and personal data from Americans than all other nations combined as part of a larger geopolitical goal to “lie, cheat and steal,” Wray said. The speech came as the FBI continues to combat ransomware attacks from criminal gangs, an ongoing concern for US officials despite the absence of crippling intrusions in recent months. Wray emphasized the need for private companies to work with the FBI to thwart ransomware gangs and nation-state hackers, adding that building those relationships is the key to success. “What these partnerships allow us to do is attack our adversaries at every point, from the victims’ networks to the hackers’ computers,” Wray said. The FBI and other federal agencies have been working to reassure hacking victims that it is in their best interest to report hacking and cybercrime. Many businesses targeted by ransomware gangs often don’t go to the FBI for a variety of reasons. US Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, issued a report earlier this year criticizing the FBI’s response to some ransomware victims. In two cases, the FBI “prioritized its investigative and prosecutorial efforts to disrupt attackers’ operations over victims’ need to protect data and mitigate damage,” the report says.
[Con información de The Associated Press]
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