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BlackCat Ransomware Group Collapses Following Alleged $22M Payment by Change Healthcare – Source: krebsonsecurity.com

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Change Healthcare, a major player in the U.S. healthcare industry, is facing the aftermath of a cyberattack orchestrated by the BlackCat ransomware group. Amid the chaos caused by the attack, Change Healthcare reportedly paid a hefty ransom of $22 million to the cybercriminals in an attempt to bring back their services online and prevent the release of sensitive data.

The ransomware group, also known as ALPHV, has a reputation for terrorizing organizations by encrypting their data and demanding payment in exchange for decryption keys. In this case, an affiliate of BlackCat came forward on the Russian-language ransomware forum Ramp to complain that the group had cheated them out of their share of the ransom payment, despite receiving the $22 million from Change Healthcare. The affiliate, going by the name “Notchy,” revealed that they still had access to the stolen data and that the group had suspended their account, leaving the company’s information vulnerable to potential leaks.

As the situation unfolded, Change Healthcare remained tight-lipped about the alleged ransom payment, neither confirming nor denying the reports. Instead, the company issued statements emphasizing their focus on investigating the cyberattack and restoring their services. The decision to potentially pay the ransom as a means to protect their data appears to have backfired, as the affiliate disclosed that not only had BlackCat failed to uphold their end of the deal, but they also had access to sensitive information from Medicare and other major insurance and pharmacy networks.

In a surprising turn of events, BlackCat announced its decision to cease operations entirely, citing a deal to sell its ransomware source code. The group’s website now displays a notice from the FBI, though some researchers have raised doubts about the authenticity of the seizure notice. The move to shut down the ransomware operation has been met with skepticism from experts like Fabian Wosar and Dmitry Smilyanets, who suggest that BlackCat may be engaging in an “exit scam” by withholding payments to affiliates and disappearing with the money.

The implosion of BlackCat comes on the heels of the demise of another ransomware group, LockBit, which was also targeted by law enforcement agencies for its malicious activities. LockBit attempted to reassert its presence after being seized by the FBI and the NCA but ultimately lost credibility when it failed to follow through on threats to release hacked data. The lack of trust and accountability displayed by these ransomware groups highlights the inherent risks of negotiating with cybercriminals and paying ransoms to protect sensitive information.

The incidents involving Change Healthcare, BlackCat, and LockBit serve as cautionary tales for organizations facing ransomware attacks. The reliance on criminal groups to safeguard data through ransom payments often leads to unpredictable outcomes and potential data breaches. By taking a stand against ransomware and strengthening cybersecurity defenses, companies can mitigate the risks associated with cyber threats and avoid falling victim to extortion schemes in the future.

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