Argentina Refuses to Pay Ransom After Hackers Force Border Shutdown, Demand Millions in Bitcoin

Argentina’s national migration agency has said it managed to contain a cyber attack last month that forced the country to briefly shut down its borders.

In a statement published on Twitter on August 28, Argentina’s National Directorate of Migration said it had been targeted by a cyber attack, which caused a disruption of a number of services, including border control.

According to the agency, the Integrated Migration Capture System (SICaM) the country uses to facilitate international crossings was “particularly affected” by the attack, causing a disruption to entries and exits in and out of the country.

The National Directorate of Migration sought to make clear that the attack did not affect the critical infrastructure of the agency, nor did hackers access the personal or corporate information that it manages.

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Newsweek has contacted Argentina’s government, including the National Directorate of Migration and the country’s cybercrime agency, which is reportedly investigating the attack, for more information.

However, a number of local publications and outlets tracking cryptocurrency news have claimed that the attack was conducted by a group of Netwalker ransomware hackers, who reportedly demanded millions in Bitcoin to return the information they stole.

According to multiple reports, including from Argentine newspaper El Tribuno, the attackers sent a message to government officials warning them not to “try to recover your files without a decryptor program.”

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“You may damage them and then they will be impossible to recover,” the message reportedly said.

According to cryptocurrency news platform The Coin Telegraph, the group posted a batch of data from the agency online to prove it was behind the hack.

Initially, the group of hackers reportedly demanded $2 million in Bitcoin payment. However, the amount was later increased to $4 million.

It is unclear exactly what data was stolen from Argentina’s National Directorate of Migration or whether the agency was able to recover the information after containing the attack.

While successful cyber attacks on federal government bodies have been relatively rare, in recent years, major cyber attacks have been on the rise.

Just this month, the Norwegian parliament announced it had been targeted in a cyber attack that saw the email accounts of a number of members and staff of Norway’s Labor Party hacked.

Meanwhile, throughout the year there have been a number of significant cyber attacks, including an incident in which a “cyber espionage group” associated with Russian intelligence services was accused o attempting to steal information on coronavirus vaccine research in the U.S., Canada and Britain.

This photo taken on August 4, 2020 shows Prince, a member of a hacking group using his computer at their office in Dongguan, China’s southern Guangdong province. A hacking group targeted Argentina’s migration agency.

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