Ransomware – and especially the Conti ransomware gang – has become a geopolitical force in Costa Rica. On Monday, the new Costa Rican President Rodrigo Chaves – who began his four-year term only ten days ago – declared that the country was “At war” with the cybercriminal Contiwhose ransomware attack has disrupted agencies across the government since April.
In a strong statement made to press on May 16, President Chaves also said Conti was receiving help from collaborators within the countryand called on international allies to help.
“We’re at war and this is no exaggeration,” Chaves said said local media. “The war is against an international terrorist group that apparently has agents in Costa Rica. There are very clear indications that people within the country are cooperating with Conti.”
President Chaves’ declaration of war against Conti comes in spite of the ransomware group’s unusually militant rhetoric, which declared his intention to “overthrow the government by cyber attack.” In a message posted to the Conti website, the ransomware group urged Costa Rican citizens to pressure their government to pay the ransom, which was doubled from an initial $ 10 million to $ 20 million.
During the period of the attack, the US government also offered a reward of up to $ 10 million for information that could identify or locate the main coordinators of the Conti group’s operations, or $ 5 million for information leading to the arrest of someone member of Conti.
The severe impact of Conti’s attack on the Costa Rican government shows the continued ability of the largest redeemable groups to operate on a scale that may pose a threat to nation-states, and to use financial reserves to allow them to buy their way into some of them. . the most sensitive computer systems by bribing those with access.
“We’re now at the point where these ransomware groups are making billions of dollars, so their ability to gain access to these [networks] is only limited by his own desire, “said Jon Miller, CEO and co-founder of anti-ransomware software platform Halcyon.” Month by month, more of these groups are online. This is a dramatically growing problem. “
As the Costa Rican crisis continues, more side effects are reaching the country’s citizens. Statements made by Chaves put the number of government agencies hit 27, including the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. One of the effects was that the government was unable to collect taxes by traditional means, Chaves said.
So far, the Costa Rican president has remained adamant that the government will pay nothing to the ransomware gang. With no side seeming to falter, the situation has come to a standstill – but one that will be closely watched by other governments hoping to avoid a similar fate.