Ransomware Attack Hits Hessen Consumer Center in Germany, Threatening Data Security

The Hessen Consumer Center in Germany has fallen victim to a ransomware assault, leading to the shutdown of its IT systems and a temporary disruption in services.

Hessen, a central state in Germany with over six million residents, encompasses Frankfurt, a prominent financial hub and the nation’s second-largest metropolitan area.

The Hessen Consumer Center, a nonprofit organization, is dedicated to offering impartial advice to Hessen residents on consumer rights spanning various domains such as consumer law, telecommunications, finance, energy efficiency, health, nutrition, and more.

An announcement posted on the organization’s online platform revealed that a cyberattack occurred on Thursday, February 22, resulting in the impairment of telephone and email communications.

“Early on Thursday morning, there was an attack on the IT infrastructure at the Hessen Consumer Center,” the announcement stated.

While most communication disruptions have been resolved and the website is operational, individuals continue to encounter difficulties reaching the consumer advice center and advocates.

External IT security experts are collaborating with the organization to restore all communication channels at the impacted advice centers. However, a timeframe for returning to normal operations has not been provided.

Of greater concern is the potential for a data breach affecting Hessen citizens who have interacted with the advice center. Ransomware actors often exfiltrate data before encryption to leverage it during extortion.

Although the advice center cannot confirm data theft at this stage, it pledges to notify affected individuals if a compromise of personal data is confirmed.

“The data on the server and some backup systems is currently encrypted. It is not yet clear whether or which data has been leaked. As soon as it becomes clear, those affected will be informed,” stated the Hessen Consumer Advice Center.

The advice center emphasized its commitment to data protection by storing the minimum necessary data on its servers, although specific data types were not mentioned.

State data protection and IT security authorities have been apprised of the cyber incident, and a criminal complaint has been lodged with the Hessen police.

As of the latest update, the Blackcat/ALPHV ransomware gang has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Hessen Consumer Center and has posted data samples on its dark web extortion page.

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