April 21, 2024

The Hacker Behind Vermont Hospital’s Ambush Pleads Guilty 

The US Department Of Justice announced that the attacker behind the major malware disruption at the University of Vermont Medical Center in 2020 just pleaded guilty in a federal court in Nebraska on Thursday.

The convict has been identified as Vyacheslav Igorevich Penchukov (also known as Vyacheslav Igoravich Andreev). He is a 37-year-old Ukrainian man who was involved in two malware schemes, including the one that affected the Vermont hospital leading to the temporary shutdown of vital equipment in the hospital and a loss of tens of millions of dollars.

Who Is Vyacheslav Igorevich Penchukov?

Prosecutors identified Vyacheslav Igorevich Penchukov as a leader of a hacker group (unnamed). It is believed that he first started committing cyber crimes with this organization in May 2009. That’s when they infected thousands of computers of business organizations with malware.

Vyacheslav was arrested in Switzerland in 2022 and sent back to the US in 2023.

The malicious software that’s identified as “Zeus” was used to steal the login credentials of many companies’ online bank accounts and payment apps. Stolen credentials included passwords as well as personal identification numbers.

He is also allegedly the leader of another massive malware scheme that started gaining popularity around November 2018 and went on till 2021.

This malicious technique allowed the group to use ransomware and infect the target’s computer before accessing the information stored on it. This is the same technique that was used in the Vermont Medical Center’s attack.

Since his court documents are sealed, we couldn’t find any details about his lawyer.

But we do know that he pled guilty on two accounts — one is the conspiracy to commit an offense that’s in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and the other is a conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

About The Attack & Its Impact 

The attack severely affected the hospital’s efficiency in serving the patients. The ones already in their care were diligently catered to but their capacity to accommodate for cases declined.

Dr. Stephen Leffler, president, and chief operating officer of UVM Medical Center, said that although they were able to seamlessly switch to paper, work had slowed down.

I can tell you that there are days in front of us where we’ll be using a paper system.Dr. Stephen Leffler

It also affected day-to-day jobs. As many as 129 employees couldn’t carry out their day-to-day responsibilities and had to be reassigned while the rest had to be given paid time off.

At the time, the hospital couldn’t even get them a timeline of when they could be back at their job. This led to considerable dissatisfaction among the work staff, leading to 300+ resignations.

Investigations had started soon enough. Federal and state officials had confirmed that they are looking into the matter but they couldn’t confirm at that time if it was an independent attack or a part of a coordinated attack that affected a series of hospitals across the country.

We still don’t know if there was any request for ransom because Leffler refused to comment. He said that he’s not aware of any ransom demands, but it might be that he’s not included in these discussions.

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