Major ransomware attack knocks Romanian hospitals offline | #ransomware | #cybercrime

In a distressing turn of events, Romania has been grappling with a significant cybersecurity breach that has severely impacted its health care infrastructure. Hospitals throughout the country in the recent days fell victim to a large-scale ransomware attack, resulting in the paralysis of the health care management systems.

The onslaught targeted the widely used Hipocrate Information System (HIS), affecting more than 25 hospitals nationwide, according to reports from SecurityWeek.

The cybercriminals behind the attack dropped the Backmydata malware, a relative of the Phobos ransomware family, encrypting data across the compromised facilities and causing the entire health care system to go offline.

The Romanian National Cyber Security Directorate (DNSC) revealed that the assailants initiated their assault on Feb. 10, encrypting data at a children’s hospital initially before expanding their targets to include additional medical facilities between Feb. 11-12.

Loss of data

The ramifications of the attack were profound, with 100 hospitals resorting to manual record-keeping using pen and paper in the absence of functioning digital systems.

Furthermore, the DNSC confirmed that the internet connections of 74 health care facilities linked to the HIS system were severed, prompting ongoing investigations to determine the extent of the impact on these institutions.

While most affected hospitals possess recent backups, facilitating the restoration of systems, one facility faces a dire situation as its backups do not include data from the last 12 days.

Bitcoin ransom

The cybercriminals demanded a ransom of 3.5 Bitcoins (approximately $175,000). But authorities cautioned against engaging in any contact with attackers or making payments.

In response to the crisis, the DNSC has issued directives to all affected hospitals, urging them to isolate compromised systems, preserve ransom notes and system logs, investigate logs to identify entry points, keep affected systems operational for evidence retrieval and inform all relevant stakeholders promptly.

A cancer treatment institution disclosed that all servers were shut down, and internet connections severed on Monday to prevent data leakage.

The modus operandi of the Backmydata ransomware involves perpetuating persistent activity on infected systems, bypassing security firewalls, deleting shadow copies of data, encrypting information and potentially exfiltrating data externally.

Per the ransom notes left behind, cybercriminals claim to have pilfered sensitive data, which they threaten to sell if the ransom remains unpaid, providing victims with an email address for communication purposes.

Aegean’s tech giants take stage to talk AI, new opportunities

A major event this week brought together the big companies of the Aegean region, shedding light on artificial technologies, with a focus on technological transformation in many industries, from automotive to logistics.

The Digital Transformation Summit, organized by the Aegean Young Businesspeople Association (EGIAD) and the Aegean Industrialists and Businesspeople Association (ESIAD) for the second time, transformed into a platform dominated by stories of AI-focused initiatives and digital transformation applications.

Addressing the shortage of human resources in digital transformation and proposing education strategies for next-generation technology talents, EGIAD Chair Alp Avni Yelkenbiçer particularly emphasized the opportunities created by artificial intelligence and the new business areas it would bring.

ESIAD President Sibel Zorlu also provided examples of productivity increases through artificial intelligence technology with figures.

Perihan Inci, a board member of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSIAD), highlighted not only the opportunities presented by AI but also the evolving legal and ethical standards and threats posed by the laws introduced by the European Union.

Speaking at the opening of the meeting, Süleyman Elban, the governor of Izmir, emphasized the importance of focusing on human transformation while discussing technologies where machines communicate with each other and digital transformation. He stated that projects focusing on human transformation are the most crucial need in technology.

Transformation scenarios

During the summit, major industrial organizations of the Aegean region shared both the new opportunities created by artificial intelligence and their long-term experiences of the digital transformation process.

Senior executives from giant corporations like Arkas, Norm Holding, Cevher Group and Philip Morris shared their experiences while explaining their established software teams and the solutions they developed in detail.

Astrophysicist Umut Yıldız provided a unique experience to the audience by discussing technologies used in space research and robots investigating the existence of life forms.

Süreyya Ciliv, who previously founded startups before holding managerial positions at companies like Microsoft and Turkcell, emphasized the importance of having founded startups in the development of a customer-centric engineering approach.

Ciliv stated that technology management in institutions should be pioneering in the company’s transformation and emphasized that responding to customer needs without transformation is no longer possible.

Global expansion opportunities opening for entrepreneurial ventures

The landscape for technology ventures aiming to operate on a global scale is evolving, propelled by an increasing number of export support programs. These initiatives not only boost the revenue of exporting ventures but also aid in retaining their workforce.

The proliferation of acceleration programs is also providing crucial assistance to startups looking to venture into the global market.

Among these initiatives is the Innogate International Acceleration Program, which has been aiding local technology firms in their quest to tap into global markets for a decade now.

The 18th term of the program has recently opened its application process, targeting technology companies in Türkiye seeking to venture into international arenas.

The program, which has been conducted 15 times targeting the U.S. market up to now, will be conducted for the third time with a focus on the British market. Companies wishing to expand into the European market via the U.K. can apply through the website until Feb. 29, 2024.

The program has previously enabled local technology companies to achieve remarkable export growth, with a staggering fifteenfold increase in the United States market and a fourfold increase globally.

Marketing, sales techniques

In discussing the significance of the program that has been organized for 10 years, Attila Dikbaş, the general manager of Istanbul Technical University (ITÜ) ARI Teknokent, emphasized its role in bridging the gap between local success and global expansion.

Dikbaş highlighted the program’s comprehensive support, which includes guidance on developing suitable business models for new markets, global marketing and sales techniques and access to international networks.

“At ITÜ ARI Teknokent, we provide many programs and platforms to contribute to technology-based startups and research and development (R&D) companies at different stages. In this context, our Innogate International Acceleration Program has been filling a significant gap since 2014. We offer a comprehensive service including guidance for local technology companies to expand their local successes to a global scale, development methods for suitable business models for new markets, global marketing/sales techniques and access to international connections,” he said.

“Expanding our efforts to contribute to the globalization of our companies and ventures, in 2024, our priority goals include enlarging our European circulation program, primarily in France, Germany, and the Netherlands, and expanding our global network of leading universities, incubators and investors.”

229 tech firms

Over the past decade, the Innogate International Acceleration Program has seen substantial participation, with 229 domestic technology firms availing themselves of the opportunity to access potential customers in global markets. Notably, 131 firms have benefited from the program’s global phase, resulting in significant investments totaling $41 million, primarily in the U.S. and U.K. markets.

Arzu Eryılmaz, deputy general manager of Entrepreneurship Ecosystem and Marketing at ITU ARI Teknokent, underscored the tailored nature of Innogate’s support services, which are designed to address the specific needs of the market.

Eryılmaz elaborated on the program’s structured approach, involving preparatory sessions, expert mentorship, and networking opportunities aimed at facilitating successful market entry for participating firms.

“In our Innogate program, during the six-week preparation period, we connect our technology companies with experienced trainers and coaches who have global expertise. For the success of our companies aiming to enter the market, we bring them together with our critical partners, experts and mentors in roundtable meetings, organize one-on-one coaching sessions, and facilitate companies’ understanding of the market and meetings with their potential customers,” she noted.

“In addition to opening up Innogate’s existing business network to companies, we ensure their participation in one of the world’s most important technology events, London Tech Week, to provide them with even more opportunities for connections and collaborations.”

Ventures boasting a potential to grow on a global scale are what attract the attention of investors the most.

Notably, TT Ventures, a venture capital firm of Türk Telekom, one of Türkiye’s pioneering telecommunications and technology companies, is actively investing in ventures demonstrating rapid global expansion in sectors such as artificial intelligence, health care and financial technology.

Twozero Ventures seals its 2nd exit agreement

Twozero Ventures, Türkiye’s first sports, media and entertainment venture capital fund, has sealed its second successful exit deal with the transfer of the streaming service BluTV to Warner Bros Discovery, approved by the country’s competition watchdog.

The fund’s first exit agreement marked the initial public offering (IPO) of Maçkolik, a pioneering online platform offering worldwide sports news, scores, predictions, and analytics, last year.

When twozero Ventures made its investment in BluTV in 2021, Warner Bros Discovery announced that it had acquired 35% of BluTV shares for $20 million in the same year. With the recent approval from the Competition Authority (RK), all BluTV shares have officially transferred to Warner Bros Discovery.

Yiğit Arslan, managing partner of twozero Ventures, said their investment in BluTV, which he says was made with the anticipation that its leading position in the national market would attract the intense interest of global market leaders, has paid off in less than four years.

“One of the most influential factors in our investment in BluTV was the realization that original content produced in Türkiye resonates worldwide. Through lengthy discussions with BluTV founder Aydın Doğan Yalçındağ and his team, we were able to convince Warner Bros Discovery to invest under the right conditions,” Arslan noted.

“With Warner Bros Discovery’s extensive content library added to BluTV’s ability to produce original content, the company expanded its user base by at least four times in four years. We believe that new success stories like BluTV will emerge from the sports and media sectors in which we invest.”

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