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Costa Rica declares war on Conti

Here’s a new one on the ransomware front – the Conti gang has hacked the Costa Rican government, is encouraging citizens to protest their government’s nonpayment of a ransom and says they should overthrow the government if it doesn’t pay up.    This after the state of emergency declared last week – and now, a set of taunts posted on the weekend.  

Pulling from Vice, Conti is primarily a community of people who understand information security. And we believe that we understand it very well,” the hackers wrote, asking the Costa Rica government to pay the ransom so that their problems will go away. “Why not just buy a [decryption] key?”

The hackers also added that they will “delete the decryption keys,” a threat that essentially means it won’t be possible for Costa Rica to unlock the files encrypted by the ransomware. 

The story continues as the Costa Rican president, who just began his term this month, has declared that the country is “at war” with the gang.     Quote “The war is against an international terrorist group, which apparently has operatives in Costa Rica. There are very clear indications that people inside the country are collaborating with Conti.”

Meanwhile, in Veeam’s 2022 Ransomware Trends Report, four key data points.72% of organizations had partial or complete attacks on their backup repositories.    80% of successful attacks targeted known vulnerabilities.   76% of victims paid the ransom.    And 24% of organizations that paid did not recover their stolen data.

Why do we care?

Do not pay the ransom.   

A simple, powerful statement… that requires a lot of preparation.     In order to tell the criminals to F off, an organization has to be in a position to do so.   Confident in their recovery.   Executing a plan.  Prepared before the incident.    

I’ve talked about the idea of cyber as warfare before, and note that NATO has linked cyber to defense as well.   Imagine for a moment if Costa Rica was in NATO and now the consequences of a declaration of war.   These are the cyber stakes.