Costa Rica has declared a state of emergency after a gang of cybercriminals crippled the country’s IT systems to extort the government out of millions of dollars.
The decree came days after the criminals published a large amount of stolen data on social media sites, rendering IT systems unusable across several industries.
The country’s Finance Ministry was the first to report the attack after it found tax and social security systems malfunctioning.
The cyber gang, nicknamed Conti, initially demanded a US$10 million ransom and published the data hours after the government missed the deadline for the payment.
The criminals claim they have stolen 672 GB of data in the massive attack that reportedly took place in the third week of April.
“That’s a huge privacy breach potentially affecting an entire country, so it’s no surprise this state of emergency has been called,” said IT magazine PCGamer.
This is the first time a country has declared a state of emergency in response to a cyberattack.
Last Friday, the US State Department offered a reward of US$15 million for information that may lead to the detection and arrest of the perpetrators.
“In offering this reward, the United States demonstrates its commitment to protecting potential ransomware victims around the world from exploitation by cybercriminals,” the State Department said in a statement.
The criminal gang has carried out hundreds of such attacks over the past two years and received more than US$150 million in ransom payments, according to the FBI.