Healthcare Company Suffers Data Theft as a Result of AvosLocker Attack

  • By Patrick Ryan
  • May 19, 2022

The ransomware as a service specialist AvosLocker insists it is responsible for yet another healthcare facility attack. If the allegation is true, AvosLocker has successfully stolen data from CHRISTUS Health in Texas. The healthcare company owns hundreds of facilities throughout the United States, South America, and Mexico.

What Information was Stolen?

A segment of the information stolen from the healthcare company and subsequently added to the hackers’ dark web site for leaks earlier this month contains highly sensitive information. Data from patients on the healthcare company’s cancer registry, including social security numbers, dates of birth, full names, and medical information, were exposed in the attack.  

Information from the nonprofit Catholic Health system’s 600+ facilities was exposed in the attack. The Irving, Texas-based healthcare group has operations in Texas, Arkansas, New Mexico, Louisiana, and sites abroad.

What was CHRISTUS Health’s Response to the Attack?

CHRISTUS Health issued a statement to Information Security Media Group, noting it had recently found unauthorized actions occurred on the network. The healthcare specialist says the unauthorized activity was identified and blocked through its information security systems. The group insists the attack did not compromise clinical operations or patient care.  

The healthcare provider is now working with cybersecurity specialists and authorities to thoroughly investigate the breach and address it through the proper channels. However, the company’s representatives failed to respond to questions as to whether the attack involved ransomware, the exfiltration of data, or extortion requests from actors affiliated with AvosLocker.

What Does AvosLocker Have to say About the Attack?

According to a post published on the AvosLocker website, it is responsible for ransomware as a service attack on CHRISTUS Health. The hackers performed a similar attack one month earlier when stealing information from McKenzie Health System, a health services provider in Michigan. The attack on CHRISTUS affected more than 25,000 individuals.

What is AvosLocker’s Ransomware Attack All About?

AvosLocker’s ransomware is feared for good reason. The hackers’ ransomware encrypts targeted files on servers, only to rename them using an extension that has .avos at the end. The hackers then hold the stolen information hostage until its ransom payment request is met. The AvosLocker ransomware collective accepts payment in cryptocurrency, including Monero and Bitcoin.

In some cases, AvosLocker representatives will call their targets via phone. In addition, the actors affiliated with AvosLocker are known for threatening DDoS attacks, short for distributed denial of service, then executing those attacks if the ransom demand is not met.

Though AvosLocker launched its ransomware as a service capability in the summer of this year, the program has quickly expanded to become one of the most feared. Some argue that it makes sense to pay the ransom request made by the likes of AvosLocker. However, the data in question is improperly accessed regardless of whether the ransom is paid, meaning it has been viewed and likely copied, so there is also merit to the argument that those victimized by ransomware attacks should refuse to pay.

The FBI has gone as far as issuing a joint advisory pertaining to AvosLocker. The hacking collective has targeted some of the most important power players in the country’s critical infrastructure sectors, demanding costly ransoms to return data and control of internal systems.

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