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Saturday, 09 October 2021 06:38

Macquarie Health Corporation hit by Windows Hive ransomware Featured

Macquarie Health Corporation hit by Windows Hive ransomware Image by Rajesh Balouria from Pixabay

Macquarie Health Corporation has announced that it has suffered what it describes as a "cyber incident", that has led to it taking its IT systems offline "as a precaution".

iTWire understands the "cyber incident" is a ransomware attack, in this case by a group known as Hive or HiveLeaks that attacks systems running Microsoft's Windows operating system.

Researchers from infosec firm SentinelLabs describe Hive as a double-extortion ransomware group — "making their money off of a two-pronged attack: exfiltrating sensitive data before locking up the victims’ systems" — that first made its presence known in June this year.

Jim Walter and Juan Andres Guerrero-Saade said in a blog post about Hive in August: "The group is notable in its undiscerning choice of targets, having no limits when it comes to healthcare providers and hospitals, as evidenced in a recent attack on Memorial Health System hospitals in Ohio.

"Hive ransomware is written in Go to take advantage of the language’s concurrency features to encrypt files faster. Hive remains active with as many as 30 victim companies listed on its Hive Leaks onion site at the time of writing."

And they added: "While many active ransomware groups have committed to forgoing attacks on medical targets in deference to the current global situation, Hive is not one of them.

"On 15 August, news broke of a Hive campaign against Memorial Health System, an Ohio healthcare provider. As a result, the hospital was forced to advise some patients to seek treatment at separate facilities."

On its website on the dark web, the attackers claimed to have pilfered 225GB of data from Macquarie Health Corporation during the attack. 

The attackers claimed the exfiltrated data included medical records, research and personal data of 6717 people, financial documents, bank balances and tax deductions among others.

In a statement, dated Thursday, Macquarie Health Corporation said: "The incident has not impacted our ability to deliver patient care. As always, we remain committed to the ongoing delivery of clinical services to our patients.

"We apologise for any inconvenience this disruption may cause and thank our staff, patients, and clinicians for their patience during this situation. We will keep you informed through further updates."

Macquarie Health was set up in 1973 by Dr Thomas Wenkart in Sydney, according to information at the company's website.

It has 12 hospitals which provide surgical procedures, rehabilitation and mental health clinics, skin imaging and dermascopy, medical systems; cosmetic procedures, e-health informatics and data solutions.

The companies under its banner are Macquarie Hospital Services, MacRehab, Macquarie Medical Systems, Derma Medical and Machealth eSolutions.

Contacted for comment, Brett Callow, a seasoned ransomware threat researcher from the New Zealand-headquartered security shop Emsisoft, said: "Hive's victims include multiple public sector organisations, including organisations in the healthcare and education sectors.

"It's also a particularly problematic ransomware from a recovery perspective. Hive has an absurd crypto scheme that makes restoration even more time-consuming that usual, with sloppy coding making data loss a real possibility."

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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