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Friday, 07 May 2021 08:42

UnitingCare Queensland says it was hit by Windows REvil ransomware Featured

UnitingCare Queensland says it was hit by Windows REvil ransomware Pixabay

Australian healthcare provider UnitingCare Queensland has identified the Windows ransomware that hit its systems on 25 April as the REvil strain, aka Sodinokibi.

The organisation said in a statement that some of its digital and technology systems were still not back online as a result of the attack.

The statement was more or less a repeat of what the organisation put out on 26 April, when it announced that it had been the victim of what it called a cyber incident.

The REVil website on the dark web makes no mention of UnitingCare, hence it is fair to assume that the organisation has back-ups in place and is able to restore its data.

Asked for his take on the incident, well-known ransomware threat researcher Brett Callow, who works for the New Zealand-headquartered security shop Emsisoft, said: "REvil is one of 30 or so ransomware groups which routinely steal data and have organisations over a barrel by attempting to release it.

"Unless the targeted organisations cave in to their demands, the purloined information is posted online, usually exposing not only the organisations' information, but also that of its clients and business partners.

"This form of extortion has become increasingly commonplace with about 2000 organisations having had their data posted online since the start of 2020.

"And, because the strategy works, it's likely to become even more commonplace - unless, that is, governments finally stop dithering and take decisive action to combat the problem."

The UnitingCare statement added: "With the assistance of leading experts and advisers, we are conducting a thorough investigation into whether patient, client, resident or employee information has been breached.

"This investigation is continuing and we will continue to keep the people we care for updated in this regard, in addition to employees, regulators and other stakeholders.

"Since the incident occurred, as part of our business continuity plan, back-up and downtime procedures have been in place to ensure continuity of our clinical and care services, and these procedures have been working very well.

"At this point in time, we do not have any evidence that the health and safety of our patients, residents or clients has been in any way compromised as a result of this cyber incident.

"All employees have continued to be paid on-time as usual, however if any pay issues do occur we have established an employee payroll hotline and rapid-payment solution to address these. We are regularly communicating with our employees about this process."

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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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