Costa Rica, a North American country, was attacked by Conti ransomware, a large number of systems in multiple ministries were affected and a large number of sensitive data were stolen.
The Ministry of Finance of Colombia was the most severely affected. The theft of taxpayer information caused public panic, and systems such as taxation and customs were paralyzed for several days, resulting in heavy losses in the country’s export business, at least US$200 million.
The Colombian president said the attackers were trying to destabilize the country, alluding to Russia. However, some security experts believe that this is just an ordinary money extortion, simply because the country’s system has too many loopholes.
In the past week, a ransomware attack has paralyzed the computer system of the government of the Republic of Costa Rica (hereinafter referred to as “Costa”) in the North American country (located in Central America). The Colombian government has refused to pay the ransom and is trying to prepare for the potential fallout as malicious hackers begin releasing stolen data.
Conti, a Russian-based ransomware gang, has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Costa Rican government has yet to issue an announcement on the details.
The Ministry of Finance was the worst affected, with systems paralyzed and taxpayer information stolen
The Colombian Ministry of Finance first reported the cyber attack on Monday (April 18). From the collection of taxes and fees to customs exports, many systems under the Treasury Department were affected by the attack. Malicious hackers then targeted other targets, including the Social Security Department’s human resources system and the Department of Labor.
The attack shut down for hours the Treasury Department’s payment system, which covers most of the country’s public officials and also handles government pension payments. The Treasury Department had to approve tax deferrals as payment services were not working properly.
The Conti gang did not disclose the exact amount of the ransom. There were rumors on social media that the hacker gang offered $10 million, but there was no corresponding evidence on the Conti gang website.
“Costa Rica will never pay any ransom to cybercriminals,” said Costa Rica’s President Carlos Alvardao.
Colombian Finance Minister Elian Villegas said on Wednesday (April 20) that hackers accessed “sensitive” taxpayer history information after breaching the finance ministry’s customs platform, without specifying the amount of data leaked.
Colombian companies fear that classified information submitted to the government could be accessed by hacker gangs and then disclosed or misused. Ordinary citizens worry that their personal financial information could be used to hack into their bank accounts.
Platforms such as tax and customs have been suspended for more than 4 days, resulting in heavy losses in export business
According to a Reuters report on April 22, some platforms, including tax and customs, suspended operations for the fourth consecutive day, causing bottlenecks in imports and exports. The Costa Rican Exporters’ Chamber reported a loss of $200 million on Wednesday.
Christian Rucavado, executive director of the chamber, said cyberattacks against customs agencies had already affected the country’s import and export logistics. The goods stranded in the cold storage are slowly decaying. This is a race against time, and the specific economic loss cannot be determined for the time being. Trading operations continue, but at a much slower pace than usual.
Rucavado explained, “Many processes can only be done manually now, and there are delays in work at many border agencies. We have asked the government to take relevant remedial measures, such as extending working hours to ensure that imports and exports are completed in a timely manner.”
He also mentioned that Costa Rica normally exports goods worth $38 million a day.
Attacker with Russian background carried out double extortion
Allan Liska, an analyst at threat intelligence firm Recorded Future, said the Conti gang is carrying out a double extortion: encrypting government documents to disrupt the normal operations of various departments; if no ransom is received, the team publishes the stolen documents on the dark web for extortion sites.
The first point can be solved if these systems have good backups, Liska said, but if the stolen data is highly sensitive, it could be a big problem.
Liska revealed that the Conti gang often rents out its ransomware infrastructure to any “affiliate gang” willing to pay, so the real person behind the attack could come from anywhere in the world.
A year ago, the Conti ransomware attack forced Irish health authorities to shut down IT systems and cancel a large number of appointments, treatments and surgeries.
At the end of February this year, the Conti gang claimed support for Russia in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. The move angered an underground hacker sympathetic to Ukraine, a security researcher who claimed to have been monitoring the movements of the Conti gang for a long time, and released a large amount of sensitive data such as Conti’s internal chat records and codes.
President says attackers are trying to destabilize country, security experts think it’s just money extortion
As the country with the most stable political situation, abundant wildlife and beautiful tropical beaches in Central America, why is Costa Rica targeted by hacker gangs? Liska believes it may simply be because there are too many holes in the country’s system. “Hacker gangs hunt for specific vulnerabilities. The most likely guess is that there are a lot of holes in the Colombian government system that ransomware hackers found and decided to attack.”
Brett Callow, a ransomware analyst at Emsisoft, said he had seen a document leaked by Costa Rica’s finance ministry, and “the data in it does appear to be authentic.”
On Friday (April 22), the Conti gang claimed on a dark web blog that 50 percent of the stolen data had been released, including a total of 850 GB of data from the databases of Colombia’s Ministry of Finance and other agencies. “These are good phishing fodder, and hopefully fellow hackers in Costa Rica can use it to make a fortune,” the gang said.
In recent years, network security has gradually become a hot topic. There are many businesses and governments that are also attacked by ransomware. Enterprises and governments should be vigilant, do a good job in data protection and disaster recovery, and use virtual machine backup and other methods to do a good job in data backup.
At least 22 people have been killed in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras as Tropical Storm Nate moves north towards the US.
A state of emergency has been declared in the Central American countries, where more than 20 people are missing.
Nate has caused heavy rains, landslides and floods which are blocking roads, destroying bridges and damaging houses.
In Costa Rica, nearly 400,000 people are without running water and thousands are sleeping in shelters.
At least 8 people have died in the storm there, while another 11 were killed when it moved north and reached Nicaragua, where as much as 15ins of rain had been predicted to fall by the US’s National Hurricane Center.
Three people have been killed in Honduras, including two youths who drowned in a river, and several are reported missing.
One man was also reportedly killed in a mudslide in El Salvador, according to emergency services.
On October 5, all train journeys were suspended and dozens of flights canceled in Costa Rica.
More than a dozen national parks popular with tourists have been closed as a precaution.
Nate also caused extensive damage to infrastructure in Nicaragua.
Nicaragua’s VP Rosario Murillo advised people to be cautious in the heavy rains.
“Sometimes we think we think we can cross a river and the hardest thing to understand is that we must wait,” he said on state radio.
“It’s better to be late than not to get there at all.”
According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm was expected to move off the eastern coast of Honduras at 23:00 ET on October 5.
Forecasters say Nate will gain strength and become a category one hurricane before it makes landfall on the southern coast of the United States on October 8.
Residents from Florida to Texas have been told to prepare for the storm, which, if it does strike, might be the third major storm to hit the southern coast his year.
Both Texas and Florida are still recovering from the damage inflicted by Hurricane Harvey, which hit the former in August and caused “unprecedented damage”, and Hurricane Irma, which made landfall in Florida in September.
A state of emergency was declared in 29 Florida counties, and in New Orleans in Louisiana.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu told people who live on low-lying ground to evacuate.
He tweeted: “There is no need to panic.
“Be ready and prepare. Get a plan. Prepare to protect your personal property.”
Oil companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico says they are evacuating staff from platforms which lie along the predicted path of Tropical Storm Nate.
Caribbean storm Otto has been upgraded to a hurricane and is threatening Costa Rica and southern Nicaragua, forecasters say.
Forecasters warned that Hurricane Otto may have winds of 90 mph when it makes landfall early on November 24.
At least four people have already died in Panama in severe weather caused by the approach of the storm.
Otto is moving west at 2 mph after being almost stationary throughout November 22, experts say.
According to the US National Hurricane Center, Otto is now blowing at about 75 mph as it approaches northern Costa Rica and southern Nicaragua.
The storm is now centered east of Limon, Costa Rica. When it makes landfall on November 24 its heavy rain is expected to create numerous mudslides. It is then expected to cross over into the Pacific.
The Washington Post says that very few hurricanes have formed so late in the season – which ends on 30 November – and that across the Atlantic since 1851 only 35 storms have reached tropical storm intensity on or after November 15.
Earlier in Panama two people died in a mudslide; a girl drowned in a river and a boy died when a tree fell on a car taking him to school. His mother, who was driving, survived.
According to officials, about 50 homes were destroyed by mudslides and flights were delayed.
The governments of Nicaragua and Costa Rica have issued a hurricane watch from Costa Rica’s southern border to the city of Bluefields in Nicaragua.
There is also a likelihood of dangerous surf and rip current conditions over the next few days along the coasts of Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, officials say.
Rising from the depths of the lush forests of Central America, Costa Rica is at the top of the list of any serious traveler. An amazing experience anyone can enjoy, this destination will be a holiday escape like no other. With endless sights, sounds and smells, appreciating the beauty of Costa Rica will come natural, but to get the best action, here are a couple of tips once you venture into this realm of wonder.
Planning Your Trip
When visiting Costa Rica one of the first things you need to do is plan ahead.
There are many awesome Costa Rica Tours you can choose from, depending on what kind of experience you’re looking for.
Do the necessary research in advance, so you know what to expect once you arrive. One of the deciding factors that might influence your visit is the weather. The difference between verano (dry season – December to April) and invierno (rainy season – May to November) is a real game changer for any trip to Costa Rica. Just to be on the safe side, your bag should always contain comfortable clothes, shoes with a warmer alternative, sunblock, and mosquito repellant. And to help you before and during your trip, load up on travel tools on your phone.
The Right Accommodations
Costa Rica is a tourist hot spot, so it’s no wonder that hotels won’t be hard to come by. Most of what you think of as classical hotels and resorts are situated in larger cities and towns such as San Jose, Cartago, Santa Cruz, Liberia and Limon. They provide tourists with both affordable and luxury accommodations to choose from. However, if you are travelling with family or friends for a longer period, and you want to balance out price and space for everyone, you should consider checking out property rentals in Costa Rica. Away from the towns in the more remote regions, you can seek out good accommodations, but services like Wi-Fi might be hard to get a hold of.
Moving Through Costa Rica
Getting around in Costa Rica is easy, since the exchange rate is great, and you can get amazing bus deals for as low as 3$ per person. Due to its relatively small size, all of Costa Rica can be easily accessed by road, although the environment defined the way they were built, so some trips may take longer than others. However, travelling in larger settlements on foot may prove to be challenging, as pedestrians don’t always have the right-of-way.
Health and Safety Tips
As a traveler, it is also good to know that Costa Rica has quality health standards, with excellent hospitals in all the major tourist destinations. It is also good to note that most of the taps in the country provide safe drinking water, so you can save up on the bottled stuff. While SIM prepaid cards are available throughout the country with great travel deals always on offer.
Flavors of Costa Rica
When in Costa Rica, always go for local food and ingredients. Owing to its tropical, rainforest location, the markets are an amazement of color and smell. Fruit and veg are available in enormous quantities, and if you have a chance try local varieties such as anona, grandilla, guava and rose-apples. As anywhere around the world, when searching for the best food in Costa Rica look towards the street vendors, and small tucked away dinners. Each region has its own twist on the classics, and apart from the Tamales and Empanadas, be sure to try the national dish Casado, Ceviche, Gallo Pinto, and Sopa de Mariscos.
Hidden within the rainforests of Costa Rica, are of course, the reasons why this country should be at the top of your vacation list. For nature fanatics and especially bird watchers, one of the most beautiful forests of the world – the Monteverde Cloud Forest, is a must see. Closer to the water, Tamarindo’s world famous surf is a hot spot for water sport junkies, while Manuel Antonia National Park is an ideal family beach holiday vacation paradise. Finally, hidden among the inland volcanoes, is the surreal La Fortuna Waterfall, and the hike of a lifetime.
Original Costa Rica Tours
The appeal of Costa Rica is also highlighted through the unique travel tour offers. Exploring the depths of the rainforest and its wildlife, you might want to consider the Canopy Tour. High above the treetops, you will zip line, like a spider monkey, from one tree platform to the next, all the while witnessing some amazing vistas of endless forest. If you want to be more down to earth, but still seeking adventure, White Water Rafting will be your tour of choice. One of the most thrilling ways to encounter Costa Rica, you will zig-zag through the vast meandering river network, such as the Celeste River, going on a ride of a lifetime.
There you have it, the dos and don’ts of Costa Rica that will make the entire journey an amazing experience. Now, all that is left is to pack your bags, and make this paradise your next vacation destination. Vaya con Dios!
The worst performance at a World Cup by England, period. Eliminated just 8 days into the tournament and after only two games for the first time in the proud nation’s history.
It was never going to be easy. It wasn’t a great surprise that England were eliminated before the second round but the manner in which it happened left a bitter taste in the mouth.
Two defeats in which England had more possession of the ball, more shots on goal but allowed the opposition to score twice in each match with some of their only attempts on goal.
Manager Roy Hodgson has the backing of the English FA. Captain Steven Gerrard wants at least a week to decide over his England future. Wayne Rooney is “hurt”, apparently.
England was eliminated after just 8 days into the World Cup soccer tournament (photo Nike)
The two England performances against Uruguay and Italy were barely encouraging. While England weren’t exactly favourites for lifting the World Cup, they were still expected to get one win out of two games. The exciting football that the team played was a treat and a rarity it must be said. The Sunday League defending and the lack of opportunities created were a big reason for England to catch the plane home early.
Only 8 nations at the 2014 World Cup had a younger squad than England. That included having 34-year old Steven Gerrard and now 36-year old Frank Lampard.
England took the most under-21 players to the tournament of all 32 nations – 18-year old Luke Shaw, 19-year old Raheem Sterling and 20-year olds Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ross Barkley.
Liverpool’s Sterling has already started both of England’s games at this World Cup, whilst Everton’s Barkley has made substitute appearances in both. Arsenal’s Chamberlain was not fit for either of the two previous matches, but if all four of these players are given a start against Costa Rica, alongside some of the senior players – surely this can only be a positive thing for England’s future.
Manager Hodgson admitted in Thursday’s press conference that he wanted to give as many of his 23-man squad an appearance during the tournament. 15 members of the squad have already made an appearance.
Two goalkeepers; Fraser Forster (26) and Ben Foster (31) are joined by Phil Jones (22), Frank Lampard (36), James Milner (28), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (20), Luke Shaw (18) and Chris Smalling (24) as those yet to play.
There’s a handful of names in this squad you think could be very great in two or four years’ time at the next tournaments provided England qualify. But how many of these do you predict to be World Class players?
How many of these players are going to go on to become the next Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Sergio Agüero, Franck Ribéry or Arjen Robben?
Since the decline of Wayne Rooney, the retirements of David Beckham and Michael Owen and the aging Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard – England now desperately need to be on the lookout for developing World Class players in the very near future if they’re even to consider reaching the final four of a major tournament, let-alone winning it.
Compared to the likes of Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands, England simply don’t have the strength in depth and until that is developed the manager can only do the best with the blunt tools he has been given.
A 7.6-magnitude earthquake has rocked the north-western part of Costa Rica triggering a tsunami warning, the US Geological Survey said.
A tsunami warning is in effect for Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua.
The quake was centred about 50 miles (80 km) south of the town of Liberia and was at a depth of 12.4 miles.
It rattled buildings and cut power in some parts of the capital of San Jose, Reuters news agency reported.
A 7.6-magnitude earthquake has rocked the north-western part of Costa Rica triggering a tsunami warning
Power and communications in much of the country were briefly knocked out, according to Costa Rican authorities.
Regional media reported it could be felt as far away as Nicaragua and El Salvador.
The US Geological Survey originally said the quake had a magnitude of 7.9, but revised it down to 7.6.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reduced the area of the tsunami warning, which had earlier included the Pacific coast of most of Central and South America to Costa Rica and its immediate neighbours.
Douglas Salgado of the National Commission of Risk Prevention and Emergency Attention told the Associated Press news agency that there were no initial reports of damage or deaths in the earthquake zone.
He said officials were having problems reaching people in the area nearest the epicentre.
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