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3 min read

UnitedHealth Hack Could Take Months for Full Recovery

Mar 8, 2024 12:15:17 PM

Healthcare giant UnitedHealth could take months to get their data back after being attacked by ransomware gang ALPHV. With such a large amount of data, it can be very difficult to get decryption keys working—especially if you're dealing with a tough threat actor group. CEO Kurtis Minder was featured in Reuters speaking on GroupSense's experience negotiating with ALPHV in the past. Check out the excerpt below or view the full article here

UnitedHealth hasn't said if ALPHV demanded ransom, but a post on an online cybercrime forum claimed the company paid $22 million to the hackers for regaining access to its locked systems and around 8 terabytes, or 8 million megabytes, of data that was allegedly stolen.
Such decryption can take “unreasonable amounts of time, depending on the file sizes and systems in question,” said Kurtis Minder, co-founder of cyber intelligence firm GroupSense.
Minder, who has helped victimized organizations negotiate with ALPHV, said recovery timelines ranged from a few weeks to "long and longer."

ALPHV has not responded to requests for comment. The U.S. FBI, which typically investigates such matters, declined to comment on the hack.
Months before ALPHV waged its most disruptive hack yet, it was hitting hospitals and small healthcare providers. Minder said he has helped several companies, including an eye care clinic that was an ALPHV target last year, negotiate with the hackers.“Of the groups that we’ve dealt with in ransomware, ALPHV have been some of the more antagonistic or difficult to deal with,” Minder said, adding that the gang was particularly persistent against its targets, and stubborn at negotiating ransoms.
Active since at least 2021, the Russian-speaking ALPHV cybercrime gang provides its own malicious software and infrastructure to other hacking outfits, and was the world's second most prolific 'ransomware-as-a-service' entity until the FBI disrupted its operations in December.
The FBI said at the time it had seized many ALPHV websites and gained insight into its computer network. The Change hack has raised questions about how effective the agency's actions really were.
In response to the FBI takedown, ALPHV’s administrator instructed its hacking 'affiliates' to target hospitals, according to a U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) advisory about the group last week. Of the nearly 70 known ALPHV victims since mid-December, most have been in healthcare, CISA said. There are some signs ALPHV may be quiet for a while. Following the Change Healthcare hack, the gang has pulled a disappearing act.
But it is common for such groups to rebrand and resurrect themselves, analysts say.
"In order to truly disrupt these folks, you’d have to arrest them," said Minder. Such arrests are difficult, he said, given that these gangs are often based in countries the U.S. does not have extradition treaties with.
Topics: News Ransomware

Written by Editorial Team