Alicia Bañuelos, Minister of Science and Technology of Argentina’s local government in San Luis, confirms that hackers launched an attack on a government-owned data center located in the South American country. The hacking group allegedly demanded ransom payments in Bitcoin (BTC).
Around 7,700 GB of data, accumulated over a 10 year-period, was reportedly compromised due to the security breach. Bañuelos says the data center has recovered around 90% of the data that was encrypted by the hackers and that it will take around 15 days to decrypt all the files, “mostly due to the sheer size of the archive.”
Bitcoin ransoms reaching into the hundreds of thousands, which are tied to crippling malware, have impacted cities around the world. In June, government officials in Baltimore, Maryland who refused to pay a 13 BTC ransom worth roughly $100,000 at that time, ended up losing at least $18 million in repair costs and lost revenue due to hijacked systems.
- Johannesburg got hit with a Bitcoin ransom in October
- Ransom-seeking hackers hit two cities in Florida
- Riviera Beach, Florida agreed to pay hackers $600,000 in Bitcoin
The exact amount of the Bitcoin ransom demanded in the San Luis hack is unknown; however, reports indicate that the extortionists may have asked for anywhere between $37,000 and $370,000 in Bitcoin, in exchange for decrypting the affected files.
An official who was working at the data center says that they are unable to confirm whether the person(s) sending the email messages is the one who actually created the malware scripts.
However, it appears that the criminals who engage in these activities have the financial resources to develop the software tools needed to launch such attacks.