AP

Wray: FBI blocked planned cyberattack on children’s hospital

Jun 1, 2022, 7:07 AM | Updated: Jun 5, 2022, 6:09 am

Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Christopher Wray testifies during a Senate Appropri...

Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Christopher Wray testifies during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the fiscal year 2023 budget for the FBI in Washington, DC on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. (Bonnie Cash/Pool Photo via AP)

(Bonnie Cash/Pool Photo via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI thwarted a planned cyberattack on a children’s hospital in Boston that was to have been carried out by hackers sponsored by the Iranian government, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Wednesday.

Wray told a Boston College cybersecurity conference that his agents learned of the planned digital attack from an unspecified intelligence partner and got Boston Children’s Hospital the information it needed last summer to block what would have been “one of the most despicable cyberattacks I’ve seen.”

“And quick actions by everyone involved, especially at the hospital, protected both the network and the sick kids who depended on it,” Wray said.

The FBI chief recounted that anecdote in a broader speech about cyber threats from Russia, China and Iran, and the need for partnerships between the U.S. government and the private sector.

He said the bureau and Boston Children’s Hospital had worked closely after a hacktivist attacked the hospital’s computer network in 2014. Martin Gottesfeld launched a cyberattack at the hospital to protest the care of a teenager at the center of a high-profile custody battle; Gottesfeld later was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The attack against the hospital and a treatment home cost the facilities tens of thousands of dollars and disrupted operations for days.

“Children’s and our Boston office already knew each other well — before the attack from Iran — and that made a difference,” Wray said.

He did not ascribe a particular motive to the planned attack on the hospital, but he noted that Iran and other countries have been hiring cyber mercenaries to conduct attacks on their behalf. In addition, the health care and public health sector is classified by the U.S. government as one of 16 critical infrastructure sectors, and health care providers such as hospitals are seen as ripe targets for hackers.

When it comes to Russia, he said, the FBI is “racing” to warn potential targets about preparatory actions that hackers are taking toward destructive attacks. In March, for instance, the FBI warned that it was seeing increased interest by hackers in energy companies since the start of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Hackers from China have stolen more corporate and personal data from people in the United States than all other nations combined, as part of a broader geopolitical goal to “lie, cheat and steal their way into global denomination of global sectors,” Wray said.

The speech took place as the FBI continues to combat ransomware attacks from criminal gangs, a continuing concern for U.S. officials despite the absence of crippling intrusions in recent months.

Wray emphasized the need for private companies to work with the FBI to thwart ransomware gangs and nation-state hackers.

“What these partnerships let us do is hit our adversaries at every point — from the victims’ networks, back all the way to the hackers’ own computers,” Wray said.

The FBI and other federal agencies have been working to assure hacking victims that it is in their best interest to report intrusions and cyber crimes. Many companies attacked by ransomware gangs often do not go to the FBI for a variety of reasons.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, the top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, issued a report this year critical of the FBI’s response to some ransomware victims. In two cases, the FBI “prioritized its investigative and prosecutorial efforts to disrupt attacker operations over victims’ need to protect data and mitigate damage,” the report said.

One unnamed Fortune 500 company told committee staff that the FBI did not offer any “helpful assistance” when responding to a ransomware attack.

Wray, though, cited the FBI’s capacity to get a technically trained agent to any victimized company in an hour — “and we use it a lot.”

___

Suderman reported from Richmond, Virginia.

___

Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Mugshot of Rudy Giuliani, who was processed Monday, June 10, 2024, in the Arizona fake electors cas...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani posts $10K cash bond after being processed in Arizona fake electors case

Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and Donald Trump attorney, was processed Monday in the Arizona fake electors case.

2 days ago

FILE - White House former chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House, Wed...

Associated Press

Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pleads not guilty in Arizona fake elector case

Former Donald Trump presidential chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump 2020 Election Day operations director Michael Roman pleaded not guilty Friday in Phoenix to nine felony charges for their roles in an effort to overturn Trump's Arizona election loss to Joe Biden.

6 days ago

deadly heat wave last summer...

Associated Press

After a deadly heat wave last summer, metro Phoenix is changing tactics

Fresh memories of the deadly heat wave last summer have led Arizona authorities to launch new tactics ahead of summer 2024.

16 days ago

A Yuma man has been arrested for allegedly starting a wildfire in a national wildlife preserve near...

Associated Press

Man accused of starting wildfire in national wildlife preserve in Yuma

A Yuma man has been arrested for allegedly starting a wildfire in a national wildlife preserve near the California border.

17 days ago

Colorado River settlement center of new Navajo Nation push...

Associated Press

Tribes say their future is at stake as they push for Congress to consider Colorado River settlement

Navajo officials are celebrating the signing of legislation outlining a proposed Colorado River settlement that would ensure water rights.

20 days ago

Follow @ktar923...

Sponsored Content by Collins Comfort Masters

Here's how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Wray: FBI blocked planned cyberattack on children’s hospital