Hackers threaten to overthrow the new president of Costa Rica

costa rica president
Rodrigo Chaves, Costa Rica’s new president. Photo: Casa Presidencial

Russian-backed group Conti has infiltrated government systems in Costa Rica, crippling the operations of multiple agencies and forcing the newly-inaugurated Rodrigo Chaves administration to declare a state of emergency last week. Now, the gang is raising the stakes and saying its goal is to overthrow the government.

“We are at war and that’s not an exaggeration,” President Chaves said — strong words in a country with no army.

The attacks began in mid-April and the extent of the damage has only grown bigger since. In his most recent statement, Mr. Chaves said 27 institutions have been impacted, with nine being seriously affected. In addition to causing millionaire losses to Costa Rican customs services, the hack has also delayed the payment of civil servants.

Previously, Conti offered a “discount” for the USD 10 million ransom it initially sought — and even congratulated Mr. Chaves for his electoral victory early in May. While announcing a cybersecurity plan, the head of state denied any possibility of payment. 

In a message Monday, Conti warned that it was working with people inside the government. Still, cybersecurity experts don’t believe Conti would have the means to carry out its threats — and say it is all about making noise.

The Conti group reportedly disbanded at the beginning of the month — amid increased attention from U.S. law enforcement agencies and a USD 15 million bounty on its members. But the hackers behind the group apparently continue to operate in Costa Rica.