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Ransomware halts health organization’s ability to inform public on COVID-19

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Officials at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District were dealt a blow in their ability to inform the public about the Coronavirus outbreak when it was attacked with ransomware knocking its website offline.

The attack struck on March 10, according to published reports, taking down the website and the staff’s ability to access records. The website has since been recovered and the organization said the attack, which was conducted using NetWalker (aka mailto) ransomware, did not affect email accounts, environmental health records and patient electronic medical record.

While the site was down, the Illinois-based facility used Facebook to keep patients informed on Coronavirus-related matters.

An email to Champaign-Urbana Public Health District for further details has not yet been returned.

NetWalker was first seen in the wild in August 2019, but it was not until February 2020 that it was determined to be hitting enterprise level targets, according to Bleeping Computer. The malware is considered to by highly sophisticated.

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