The small Central American nation of Costa Rica is currently battling high-tech hackers who are threatening to overthrow the government if it doesn’t pay them $20 million.
Costa Rican president Rodrigo Chaves took office on May 8 for a four-year term, vowing to save the country and warning that “if the political class fails one more time, the country could fall apart.” Now his administration is knee-deep in the middle of a digital war that’s only getting worse, with taxes unable to be collected and government employees going unpaid.
Chaves has condemned “cyber-terrorists” from the Russian-based Conti cartel as being behind the sustained ransomware assault. Numerous government departments have been struggling to keep running properly for over a month now since Conti began its attack in mid-April.
Conti has hit core systems in dozens of departments of the Costa Rican government, including the treasury, labor ministry, tax administration, its social security fund, and many more. The hackers have also crippled certain areas of Costa Rica’s electrical grid and say they will also begin attacking private businesses in the country if the government doesn’t pay up.
Chaves declared a nationwide state of emergency on his first day in office and said strong countermeasures will now allow the government to “respond to those attacks as criminal actions.” Chaves’ predecessor, President Carlos Alvarado, refused to budge and paid nothing to Conti when it initially issued its demands.
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