back to article Possible China link to Change Healthcare ransomware attack

A criminal claiming to be an ALPHV/BlackCat affiliate — the gang responsible for the widely disruptive Change Healthcare ransomware infection last month —  may have ties to Chinese government-backed cybercrime syndicates. Menlo Security this week linked Beijing to the cyberattack, which essentially left pharmacies across …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    $22M is chicken feed

    “This is what happens when everything merges and you only have one option,” McAneny said. “When we have one option, then the hackers have one big target that they know if they bring that down, they can grind U.S. health care to a halt.”

    Understanding how Change got its tendrils in almost every facet of the health-care industry requires taking a peek at the literally dozens of acquisitions that formed it (which Maureen Tkacik compiled over at The American Prospect). In short, it originated as a subsidiary of Aetna, which was then bought by a claims-processing company called Envoy in 1997 that was itself bought by Healtheon/WebMD in 2000. When WebMD executives got indicted in a kickback scheme, the company rebranded as Emdeon and proceeded to gobble up other health-technology companies, getting acquired along the way by the private-equity giant Blackstone, which rebranded it as Change Healthcare in 2015.

    Most of those moves could be considered par for the course in an acquisition-happy industry, but UnitedHealth Group turned heads among both health-care professionals and government regulators when it moved to buy Change in 2021. By that point, UnitedHealth Group had expanded well beyond the insurance business, primarily through its subsidiary Optum, which owns everything from pharmaceutical services to physician practices. (Optum is now the country’s largest employer of physicians, with 90,000 on staff.) At the time, Optum and Change were two of the biggest providers of health IT services in the country, and medical trade groups, including the AHA, protested that the merger would result in UnitedHealth Group having near-monopolistic control over certain services. The Justice Department agreed and sued to block the merger in 2022, alleging that United might also use Change’s data to access sensitive info about its rivals. The suit failed, and the $13 billion merger went through.

  2. JustAnotherDistro

    They had it coming

    The ransomware payment is a pittance compared to the civil cases that should arise from this. I hope they bankrupt UHG. Oh, what am I saying--they would just get bailed out, like all the other profiteers who fought tooth and nail against a real national health plan in 2010, and instead saddled us with private-equity-owned Dickensian caricatures. "The Sun Makers" (Dr Who) was never more relevant.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    If these two outfits are parts of their respective countries' kleptocracies this could get interesting.

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