News Business Octapharma Plasma Operations Affected by Ransomware Attack
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Octapharma Plasma Operations Affected by Ransomware Attack

US plasma collection operation Octapharma Plasma – the US arm of Swiss pharmaceutical company Octapharma – has warned of a network issue affecting its operations, leading to the closure of more than 150 of its collection sites. However, according to reporting by The Register, the issue may in fact stem from a ransomware attack.

The Network Issue

“All centres are experiencing network issues and are currently closed,” a banner on the company’s website says. “Further updates on reopening will be sent via email, social media, OctaApp, and our website.”

The Ransomware Suspicions

But a “source familiar with the situation” has a different story - it’s not a “network issue”, but an attack by the Black Suit ransomware gang – and the impact could be significant. "If they don't restore the systems, they will need to close their factories in Europe as more than 75 per cent of their plasma comes from the US," the unnamed source told The Register on April 18. "IT management don't give a s*** about security and they are now learning a lesson."

According to the source, hackers got into Octapharma Plasma’s VMware systems and deployed their ransomware. As far as they know, the source is unaware of any ransom demand, nor do they know if the company has entered into ransom negotiations. So far Black Suit has made no mention of the attack on its darknet leak site, but the incident only occurred this week - it can take some time between the initial incident and when a ransomware gang posts about it.

Importance of Plasma Collection

Octapharma Plasma collects plasma for use in a range of therapeutic products, offering cash to donors. “New plasma donors can earn over $500 during the first 35 days!” the company says in its marketing material. The plasma that Octapharma Plasma collects is an important part of its Swiss parent company’s business. “In the USA, Octapharma Plasma, Inc. collects, tests, and supplies human blood plasma for manufacture into life-saving therapies. Octapharma Plasma, Inc. operates more than 190 donation centres in 35 states,” the Octopharma website says. Octopharma considers itself “one of the largest human protein manufacturers in the world, developing and producing human proteins from human plasma and human cell lines.”

Healthcare Under Attack

Ransomware operators have taken the gloves off when it comes to attacking healthcare providers recently, and if Octapharma Plasma has in fact fallen victim, it will join a growing list of healthcare organisations that have had their business deeply disrupted by a ransomware attack.

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