Austria’s Carinthia halts passport issuance over ransomware attack

The state of Carinthia said it will not pay because there is no evidence that data was actually siphoned off, moreover, all data is backed up on backup systems, the head of Carinthia’s press service, Gerd Kurath, has said. [Shutterstock/AlyoshinE]

Criminal hacker group Black Cat is demanding $5 million in Bitcoin from the Austrian state of Carinthia in exchange for decryption software and sensitive data it claims to have accessed following a hacker attack that resulted in a massive IT failure of government services on Tuesday.

The state of Carinthia said it will not pay because there is no evidence that data was actually siphoned off, moreover, all data is backed up on backup systems, the head of Carinthia’s press service, Gerd Kurath, has said.

“We were offered decryption software, for a payment, of course,” he added.

“We assume that of the 3,000 IT workstations affected, the first will be available again on Friday,” Kurath said. Until then, new passports cannot be issued and traffic fines cannot be delivered.

The hacker attack has taken down the state’s email service and the state website is offline. According to Kurath, this could continue for another few days. COVID-19 contact tracing in the district administrative offices is also not working. “Currently, no suspicious case tests can be carried out,” Kurath said.

The transfer of social benefits, temporarily halted due to the attack on Tuesday, was resumed on Wednesday.

The police and the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism continue to investigate.

In recent months, administrations across Europe have been repeatedly attacked with ransomware and other malware.

Read alsoGermany not sufficiently prepared to tackle ransomware threats

Killnet, the Russian hacker group, attacked German as well as Italian authorities in recent days.

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