RansomHub says it published data from Florida’s health department

RansomHub says it published data from Florida’s health department
RansomHub says it published data from Florida’s health department

Hacking group RansomHub claimed this week that it had exfiltrated and published 100 gigabytes of sensitive data from the Florida Department of Health because the department refused to meet its ransom demands.

According to a July 1 post on X by lxq”>Hackmanac, a company that tracks cyberattacks, RansomHub threatened to publish the stolen health department data in a dark web post unless the state paid an undisclosed amount of money by Friday.

Florida, in compliance with Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency guidelines, has a policy of not paying ransomware demands, as payment does not guarantee that an organization will regain access to its data or be able to resume normal operations.

In response to the missed deadline, RansomHub posted a link to the stolen data on its account with the message: “The Florida Department of Health is responsible for protecting the public health and safety of residents and visitors to the State of Florida. It is a cabinet-level agency of state government, headed by a state surgeon general who reports to the governor. The department is headquartered in Tallahassee.”

The Florida Department of Health did not respond to a request for comment.

“There is no particular reason to doubt that RansomHub has at least some of the data it claims to have,” Brett Callow, a threat analyst at software firm Emsisoft, told StateScoop via email. “The Department has acknowledged that it had a cybersecurity incident and RansomHub, a known and prolific malicious actor, has claimed responsibility for that incident.”

The ransomware attack and subsequent data breach was the latest in a series of incidents affecting government agencies in recent months. According to Emsisoft, 2,207 US hospitals, schools and governments were affected by ransomware attacks last year.

The Florida Department of Health, like most public health organizations, holds sensitive information about state residents, including medical records, Social Security numbers and health insurance information. The department is responsible for the state’s 67 county health departments and licenses physicians, nurses and other health-related professions.

“The US healthcare sector remains a major target for profit-driven cybercriminals. As many as 200 hospitals have been directly impacted by ransomware attacks, and many more have been indirectly affected by the Change Healthcare hack,” Callow wrote. “It’s an issue that puts people’s personal information and, worse, their lives at risk.”

In February, a new state budget for fiscal year 2025, obtained by StateScoop, proposed reverting $40 million, part of the Florida Local Government Cybersecurity Grant, to the state’s general fund.

Cyberattacks against state and local governments are common in Florida, including a ransomware attack by the Black Cat hacker group on the state’s court system last October and a phishing attack that defrauded Fort Lauderdale of $1.2 million in September.

Meanwhile, cyberattacks have been affecting other state agencies. On Wednesday, New Mexico’s public defender’s office was also hit with ransomware that compromised its data. And that same day, the Alabama Department of Education announced that it had been the target of a cyberattack last month, in which hackers failed to fully access or lock down its systems, but some data was compromised.

Written by Sophia Fox-Sowell

Sophia Fox-Sowell reports on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and government regulation for StateScoop. She was previously a multimedia producer for CNET, where her coverage focused on private sector innovation in food production, climate change and space through podcasts and video content. She earned her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Wagner College and her master’s degree in media innovation from Northeastern University.

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