German Hospitals Targeted in Ransomware Cybercrime


 Following the recent high-profile case of a Hollywood hospital falling prey to ransomware, several German hospitals are under siege with computer systems offline due to the actions of ransomware cybercriminals.

Ransomware is easily among the most widespread, high-profile strains of malware lately which can be particularly nasty and disruptive. When a targeted machine or network of computers are infected, the malicious code encrypts files into lockdown, rendering them inaccessible. Data files and more are encrypted to the point where a decryption key – in exchange for a ransom demand – is required to gain access to the files again.

The most recent publicized case of ransomware saw Hollywood Presbyterian hospital pay a ransom of $17,000 in bitcoin, following weeks of downtime, to gain access to their computers again.

Similarly, hospitals in Germany are now seeing cryptographically coded ransomware affecting their computer networks.

As reported by German Publication Deutsche Welle, several prominent German hospitals are now suffering due to ransomware attacks.

In the west of Germany, the Lukas Hospital in the city of Neuss had its hospital staff notice a sluggish computer system, with error messages popping up. A quick look-in from the IT department determined that it was a serving of malware, meant to encrypt data files.

Soon enough, the computers and the entire network was taken offline, by the hospital administration. The incident occurred two weeks ago. Patients are still advised to call the hospital via phone or send a fax as the email system is currently not functioning. Fundamentally, the ransomware has crippled the hospital’s computer infrastructure to a grinding halt.

Speaking to the publication, Dr. Andreas Kremer stated:

We pulled the plug on everything. Computers, servers, even the email server, and we went offline.

The hospital reported the attempt to spread malware to the authorities, who are investigating.

Another hospital in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, was attacked by a malware that was delivered through an email attachment.

A spokesperson for the Klinikum Arnsberg hospital told the publication:

Fortunately, it was only one server that was affected. The virus had started to encrypt files, but we could simply restore them from a backup.

As things stand, neither hospital has bowed in to pay the ransom demand. However, their operations continue to be disrupted.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Samburaj is the contributing editor at Hacked and keeps tabs on science, technology and cyber security.