Hospitals and medical device companies in the San Francisco Bay Area are at heightened risk for a new form of ransomware dubbed Zeppelin, FBI officials say. And the bad actors targeting these entities are vicious, according to Joseph Oregon, the cybersecurity chief for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA.

“There are hundreds of ransomware variants out there and right now Zeppelin is top of mind,” said Elvis Chan, an assistant special agent in charge with the FBI. “They like to target companies in the healthcare sector, small community hospitals, larger hospitals, and medical device companies.”

Zeppelin ransomware first surfaced in 2019 but is now becoming more prevalent. Chan says it was most recently detected in late June.

Investigators say scammers will spend weeks trying to hack into their victim’s computer networks. In some cases, they’ll find a glitch in your computer software that gives them access to your personal data and use it to blackmail you. Or victims will get an email, also known as a phishing attempt, threatening their company has been hacked and if the ransom isn’t paid, confidential files will be exposed. The payment is usually through digital currency like Bitcoin.

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