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Authorities bust Romania and Moldova-based hacking group targeting hospitals

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Anti-organised crime prosecutors and judicial police conducted three home searches in Romania and the Republic of Moldova at the members of a hacker group dubbed "Pentaguard", who were planning attacks on public and private institutions, hospitals included.

According to a release of the Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT), the searches were aimed at dismantling an organized criminal group specializing in cybercrime, breaking into computer systems, data tampering and computer forgery.

A search in the Republic of Moldova was conducted concomitantly with the actions in Romania, based on a letter rogatory sent by the DIICOT prosecutors to the Moldovan judicial authorities.

The prosecutors said that an organized criminal group of four was set up in early 2020, that operated in the virtual environment under the name of "Pentaguard" and whose purpose was to commit cybercrimes at two levels: getting possession of software to be used in SQl injection and web defacement attacks to the effect of gaining unauthorized access and compromising content, and then stealing the stored information; targeted were web domains that host the sites of several public and private institutions (central and local public administration institutions, governmental institutions and financial-banking, cultural, education entities, respectively) in Romania and the Republic of Moldova.

The group also sought to develop malware to use it in rasomware - cryptolocker (encrypting computer data and blocking its legitimate operation) and R.A.T. (Remote Access Trojans - remote control of the target computer) attacks.

According to DIICOT, such malicious attacks intended to block, restrict access and disrupt computer systems, as well as to breaking into and altering web domains had been directed and were planned against several public institutions both in Bucharest and other Romanian cities, mainly hospitals. Such attacks could have blocked and seriously disrupt the functioning of hospital IT infrastructures, part of the health system with a key role in combating the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The technical and intelligence support for the action was provided by the Romanian Intelligence Service.

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