• A cyberattack, possibly of the ransomware kind, has hit Czech Republic’s largest hospital. 
  • The Brno health center was receiving COVID-19 cases and also testing them in its laboratories.
  • Crooks are intensifying their hacking efforts as the virus outbreak has created the ideal exploitation environment.

The Brno University Hospital in the Czech Republic has announced a security incident caused by a cyber-attack of an undisclosed nature. The particular hospital was used in this Central European country to receive and treat COVID-19 patients, as well as to perform laboratory tests to determine the nature of the infections. As a result of the attack, the hospital can no longer cope with the outbreak, so all COVID-19 cases are redirected to a nearby clinic. Moreover, the scheduled urgent surgical procedures have been postponed, so this looks like a ransomware attack.

Right now, the Brno hospital’s IT network remains offline, possibly to contain the infection and prevent further damage. In fact, as soon as the attack was detected, the hospital’s officials circulated a message of warning, urging the personnel to shut down their computers immediately. They repeated the same message every 30 minutes, and the critical operations in the hospital were canceled three hours after that. At the same time, the hospital’s IT team notified the Czech National Cyber Security Center and the Czech police, who are now all working together for the speedy recovery of the network.

This is not the first time that we see ransomware actors targeting health centers. In November 2019, the Rouen University Hospital-Charles Nicolle, one of the largest hospitals in Northern France, was severely impacted by a ransomware attack that locked down 6,000 of its computers. These network system assaults cost real lives, and according to a recent study, there’s an approximate increase of 36 additional deaths per 10,000 heart attacks every year, attributed to cyber-attacks on health centers. In the case of the COVID-19 outbreak, though, the consequences for everyone right now are far greater.

There are hackers out there who don’t have a nugget of morals, acting like this during periods of emergency, agony, and human suffering. They see the novel coronavirus outbreak as an opportunity, and they are working feverishly to take advantage of the chaos that sets in, country after country. After all, no matter what is going on and how much we like to value and prioritize human lives above everything else, money is still a thing in this world, and cyber-crooks aren’t the only ones who are looking to profit from events like the ongoing outbreak.