Days ago, certain cyber criminal groups pledged not to attack healthcare and medical organizations during the growing coronavirus pandemic. One even offered free decryptor codes to organizations that were attacked. Share on X It sounds too good to be true.

Just prior to this agreement, threat actors from the Maze criminal group launched a ransomware attack against Hammersmith Medicines Research (HMR), a British clinical research organization that waits on standby to test emerging vaccines in their labs.

The Hammersmith Medicines Research team successfully repelled the attack, and incredibly, restored routine services without experiencing any downtime at all.

However, since then, the hackers have continued attempting to extort HMR by exfiltrating sensitive patient data and publishing it online. The intention is to incentivize the organization to pay a ransom for the data.

Regardless of whether or not the hackers launched an attack, or merely published patient data, the principles underlying the cyber criminals’ days-old social contract have been broken. Not that it should really surprise anyone.

“Financial gain is, unfortunately, the only motive for criminal actors” says Infosecurity professional, John Opdenakker. “They also know that medical organizations are currently in a very vulnerable situation due to the coronavirus outbreak, which only increases the probability that they’ll pay extortion demands.”

Adversarial groups are taking full advantage of the coronavirus pandemonium, adding fuel to the fire. Earlier this month, cyber attackers targeted the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with a DDoS attack.

For more information on this topic, visit Forbes.