Financial institutions and other organizations that facilitate ransomware payments may face sanctions for assisting a malicious cyber actor that the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has sanctioned, according to a recent OFAC advisory. The department encourages victims and others involved with addressing ransomware attacks to contact the office immediately if they believe a request for a ransomware payment may involve a sanctioned person or jurisdiction. The advisory also encourages financial institutions and other companies, such as insurance companies, that engage with victims of ransomware attacks to report such attacks to and fully cooperate with law enforcement, as these will be considered significant mitigating factors to possible OFAC sanctions-related violations.

“Unfortunately, as we have seen by recent major events, there has been a significant increase in successful ransomware attacks, necessitating this advisory,” said John Riggi, AHA’s senior advisor for cybersecurity and risk. “The AHA also discourages any ransomware payment if independent restoration of data and systems is at all possible, because it only serves to fund criminal organizations, incentivize further attacks against health care and does not guarantee the restoration of data. Thorough preparation, including having highly secure and frequently-tested multiple offline backups, is critical to building resiliency against ransomware attacks.”  

For more on hospital and health system cybersecurity and risk issues, contact Riggi at jriggi@aha.org.

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