Maryland officials confirmed on Wednesday that state’s Department of Health is dealing with a devastating ransomware attack, which has left hospitals struggling amid a surge of COVID-19 cases.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Maryland Chief Information Security Officer Chip Stewart said the attack began on December 4 and crippled their systems.
Maryland Public Health building in Baltimore. Maryland has been unable to report Covid information due to the ransomware attack.
“We have paid no extortion demands, and my recommendation — after consulting with our vendors and state and federal law enforcement — continues to be that we do not pay any such demand. At this time, we cannot speak to the motive or motives of the threat actor,” Stewart said.
Stewart went on to explain that the health department’s network team noticed a server malfunctioning in the early morning of December 4. They eventually escalated it to the IT security team, which later notified Stewart that it may be a ransomware attack.
The state began its incident response plan, which started with notifying multiple Maryland agencies, the FBI, and CISA. They also brought in outside cybersecurity firms to help with the response.
“MDH took immediate containment action by isolating their sites on the network from one another, external parties, the Internet, and other State networks. As a result of this containment approach, some services were rendered unavailable and some remain offline today. I want to be clear: this was our decision and a deliberate one, and it was the cautious and responsible thing to do for threat isolation and mitigation,” Stewart said.
He defended the decision to keep some services offline, writing that he has seen instances where organizations reconstitute services too quickly.
Multiple news outlets in Maryland have reported that the health department and dozens of local partners have struggled to recover from the ransomware incident over the last six weeks. For weeks, the department was unable to release COVID-19 case rates as the Omicron variant devastated other states. While that service has returned, health officials now have to calculate the COVID-19 statistics by hand.
Governor Lawrence Hogan also defended the state’s response, telling reporters on Wednesday that “unlike Texas and I think a couple of other dozen states, we haven’t lost hundreds of millions of dollars, and we haven’t compromised millions of peoples’ data.”
According to local news outlet Maryland Matters, the number of deaths from COVID-19 was not reported in the state for almost the entire month of December, and the state was not able to issue death certificates for about two weeks. In speaking with health officials and union members about the attack, the outlet discovered that some people dealing with HIV could no longer access the daily medication they need and some hospitals were unable to access bank accounts to cover the cost of basic necessities. After a visit to Springfield Hospital Center, State Senator Katie Fry Hester told Maryland Matters that officials have restored access to high-profile, public-facing tools but “the stuff behind the scenes that the healthcare workers need to actually do their jobs are still down.”
Other health officials said many of the state’s smaller hospitals were forced to revert back to paper records. Access to critical databases for communicable diseases, lab reports, and more are still down.
Atif Chaudhry, Maryland Department of Health’s deputy secretary for operations, said in a statement that the state has a continuity plan designed specifically for situations like this.
Officials prioritized mission-critical and life-safety services as they worked around the ransomware attack, using Google Workspaces as a tool to “ensure that they can serve the public’s most urgent needs right now and resume their standard level of full service.”
State officials plan to hold a hearing about the ransomware attack on Thursday.
There is no organization in any sector that is safe from ransomware except those that utilize Helix22 data security SDK.
Growing ransomware attacks come as no surprise to us at BLAKFX as we have set out to eliminate ransomware as a threat…Period.
Our mission for 2022 is to end ransomware threats.
In Math We Trust
Ransomware Auditing as a Service (RaaS): as ransomware attacks have skyrocketed, they have come to represent the biggest threat to the data of government agencies, military, intelligence agencies as well as private enterprises. BLAKFX developed the first in the world Ransomware Auditing as a Service (RaaS) platform which allows our cyber security engineers to scan your network and simulate real-world ransomware attacks to test the prevention, detection and mitigation strategies of your organization and establish how resilient your network is to real ransomware attacks. After the scan we provide a comprehensive report and our recommendations for remediation.
If you are the victim of an actual ransomware attack, we are able to recover the data that has been hi-jacked during the attack and due to Helix22’s patented DNA BindingTM cryptography, restore it to its original state.
We can make this restoration claim as the tech engineers at BLAKFX invented and holds multi-patents on a genuine device2device (D2D) encryption. We manage data security transmission through the truly brilliant and also patented universal Helix22 key service. The Helix22 encryption originates on your network or device, not just when the app is opened. This means, that when data arrives to our key server, it is already encrypted so all it needs to do is issue another key. Signal and Telegram cannot claim this level of security. This key will then only work with the intended device, which generates a matching key required to open the data. In this protocol, we are truly a “zero-knowledge” server so your communications and transmissions remain completely top secret. Even in the event that BLAKFX were subpoenaed, we can honor the request by just handing over the encrypted content…as that is literally all we have. Helix22 also only use keys just one-time and then destroys them. This way the data security is future forward prefect. Therefore, in our unique device-to-device encryption (D2D) world, there is no opportunity at all for any data leak.
This same protocol just described, can be the same with all your 3rd party vendors and suppliers. It does not matter in the least what platform they are running or what device they are using or even the type of data, it is all 100% protected. We do however, strongly advise that all firms involved be utilizing Helix22 due to the nature of the data content. Helix22 can ensure that whatever data they are generating is protected as well.
Let’s take it a step further. Even if your organization were a victim of an internal attack or a victim of malicious open source downloads, there is no reason for concern. Any data that has been forwarded, downloaded, copied or saved cannot be exfiltrated. Period. We have the technology industries foremost data packets which are protected with multi-layered, military grade encryption algorithms that have already proven the ability to withstand penetration testing from MI5 and quantum computing attacks.
One final practical genius of DNA BindingTM is in that it is immediately compatible with whichever system or software you are utilizing. Therefore, any organization can forward information to another and then discuss it and there is immediate privacy.
Finally, the Helix22 encryption is quantum computing ready so no need to redo all your data security methodologies in a couple of years when everything else becomes obsolete.
In the BLAKFX data security world, ransomware or any other data centric attack cannot have any affect on your systems or data.
The Helix22 data security SDK accomplishes the following:
- Protects all your firms data at rest, in use and in transit
- Renders ransomware threats obsolete
- Eliminates human error
- Eliminates all malicious or interior attacks
- Verifies original content i.e. minimizes the threat of impersonation attacks and deep fakes
- Reduces latency
- Installs with 5 lines of code
- Runs on any platform, network, device and in any programming language i.e. Internet of Things enablement
- Provides perfect future/forward secrecy
- Delivers “zero-knowledge” encryption
- Perfect security when utilizing all SaaS products
- Compatible with all cloud, 3rd party and vendor services
- Secures the Internet of Things by providing protection at the Edge with ultra low latency
- Ensures privacy and security for blockchain and all cryptocurrency transactions
- Is quantum ready – so there’s no need to upgrade when the time comes
- Requires no employee training
- Exceeds all gov’t and banking standards
- Meets compliance regulations
BLAKFX is Based on Success
Our founders, Robert Statica PhD and Kara Coppa, also founded Wickr, which is used by the US military and has never been hacked since its inception in 2012. The Helix22 data security SDK is several generations enhanced since then. Dr. Statica also delivered the encryption for the world’s most secure phone, Katim.
Founder – Robert Statica PhD Founder – Kara Coppa Founder – Alex Maslov MS, MBA
Co-Founders of Wickr KatimTM Ultra Secure Smartphone