Conti’s Attack Against Costa Rica Sparks a New Ransomware Era

“They proved and showed that a cybercrime group can do country extortion.”

Even among Conti’s long rap sheet of more than 1,000 ransomware attacks, those against Costa Rica stand out. They mark one of the first times a ransomware group has explicitly targeted a nation’s government, and during the process Conti uncharacteristically called for the Costa Rican government to be overthrown. “This is possibly the most significant ransomware incident to date,” says Emsisoft threat analyst Brett Callow. “I can’t recall another occasion when an entire federal government has been held to ransom like this—it’s a first; it’s quite unprecedented.”

Conti’s behavior was more erratic and disturbing than usual—the attacker moved into politics. “I appeal to every resident of Costa Rica, go to your government and organize rallies,” one post on Conti’s blog said. “We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack,” said another post addressed to Costa Rica and “US terrorists (Biden and his administration).”

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