Public Health Agency Shut Down by Ransomware Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

The
Champaign Urbana Public Health District (CHUPD) in Illinois, which serves hundreds
of thousands of Americans, has had its official website taken down by
ransomware operatives.

CHUPD serves
210,000 people, including the University of Illinois, with advice and
information on the biological virus outbreak that is COVID-19.

On March 12,
the agency set up an alternative website as it dealt with a ransomware
infection that took its primary website offline, The Register reports.
It also maintains a Facebook page that reportedly acts as its preferred outlet.

“We are
working to get our website up and running,” CHUPD said.

The outage
began Tuesday morning and the cause was soon confirmed as the Netwalker
ransomware, also known as MailTo.

Netwalker
operators mainly target large organizations, including government agencies.
This attack, however, doesn’t seem targeted. Rather, the malware simply caught
the health agency off guard, possibly due to lax safeguards.

This issue
is common among institutions across the United States, as evidenced by the spate
of ransomware infections across education, healthcare and government
institutions throughout 2019 and into 2020.

The
University of Illinois is also affected by the Netwalker outbreak. The school
said it will resume classes online after Spring Break.

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