Chapter 4: The Long Game
The Anatomy of a Hack, Chapter 4: The Long Game, Page 1
The day begins like an ordinary work day. It’s bright and sunny as Cindy wakes up and gets ready for work. She opens her laptop. There is a puzzled look on her face.
On her laptop screen a window appears with an image of a lock. She reads the message on the window: Your files are encrypted. Your documents, files and data are no longer accessible. To recover your access to these files, you must provide a ransom payment. Click proceed to payment to gain access.
Cindy panics and immediately throws her hands up in alarm and says, “What is going on?” She isn’t the only one.
Another Health Care Agency employee is looking at the same message on his laptop screen. He exclaims, “What is this? How am I going to do my work without access to the network?” Meanwhile, another employee holds her work phone in distress as both of her work devices are not working. Another employee is unable to reach the IT Service desk for help. All employees have been locked out of their emails, network files and other work applications. Work is virtually at a standstill.
The Anatomy of a Hack, Chapter 4: The Long Game, Page 2
John receives a call on his personal home phone. It is Mike calling the IT & Security team after his work devices are locked out. He asks if anyone can explain the ransom message. Melissa wonders if it was caused by the malware attack from a few days ago. John tells the others to connect with their teams and begin to deploy breach procedures. He comments that the ransomware message may only be the tip of the iceberg.
As he continues talking, a news reporter on the television announces breaking news. She reports that a group of hospitals in the city have been hit with a ransomware attack. She shares a statement from the Health Care Agency CEO. It reads that the organization has become the victim of a ransomware attack and that law enforcement and investigators have been engaged in the situation. There is no evidence to suggest that Health Care Agency’s data has been compromised, and its community members will stay updated.
Digital patient records at the hospital are inaccessible. Health staff must provide care to patients on a case-by-case basis. Patient booking systems are also down, and there are long wait times and cues to access hospital services. Health Care Agency continues to work to resolve the incident.
The Anatomy of a Hack, Chapter 4: The Long Game, Page 3
Anon and the rest of the team smile as they watch the news report. Anon congratulates them on a job well done. Sabrina shares the information she heisted from the Health Care Agency network, including patient names, Protected Health Information and other Personally Identifiable Information.
Anon comments that the data will be worth a lot of money. He asks Connor to begin downloading the encrypted data from Health Care Agency onto the team’s darkweb site. “Let’s go ahead to send them a greeting.”, Anon says as he smiles menacingly. The background grows dark. “This will be fun.”
The Anatomy of a Hack, Chapter 4: The Long Game, Page 4
Back at Health Care Agency, the management team is gathered in a meeting room. It looks dark, and there are many faces of concern and distress. One of the managers stand up and insists that the ransom payment must be made to stop the system outage. Another of the managers agrees, saying that the information in the wrong hands can cause much harm.
Another manager, frustrated, slams his fist on the table. He says there is no way he will let the hackers get away with this crime, and he will not pay anything to them. The first manager turns to him, also angry. She says there is no way they can allow innocent lives to suffer. The two begin a heated argument.
Suddenly, a message appears on the television screen: All of your information has been encrypted and is now in our possession. You have until Thursday to provide the ransom payment, otherwise your sensitive information will be released publicly.
The management team looks up in silence. There is only fear in their eyes. On the screen appears a final message: Your time begins now.
The Anatomy of a Hack, Chapter 4: The Long Game, Page 5
This is the end of the story, but it doesn’t have to be the same ending for you and your organization. Check out these resources to learn more about ransomware and how to protect yourself from being a victim.
The names and events used, past or present, in this story are fictional. Any resemblance to entities, people, or events is purely coincidental.