The Dark Side of Dr. Zagala: How a Venezuelan Cardiologist Became a Wanted Cybercriminal
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that encrypts the files of a computer or network and demands a ransom for their decryption. It is one of the most prevalent and damaging cyberthreats today, affecting millions of users and organizations worldwide. But who are the people behind these attacks? And what motivates them to create and distribute such harmful tools?
One of them is Moises Luis Zagala Gonzalez, also known as “Nosophoros,” “Aesculapius” and “Nebuchadnezzar,” a 55-year-old cardiologist who resides in Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela. According to a criminal complaint unsealed on May 16, 2022, in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, Zagala is charged with attempted computer intrusions and conspiracy to commit computer intrusions for his role in designing and selling multiple ransomware tools, as well as supporting and profiting from the cybercriminals who used them.
Zagala’s ransomware tools included “Jigsaw v. 2,” a variant of an existing ransomware that was used to extort money from companies and institutions by encrypting their files and threatening to delete them if they did not pay the ransom. Zagala allegedly added a “Doomsday” counter to his version of Jigsaw, which kept track of how many times the user had attempted to eradicate the ransomware.
Another tool that Zagala allegedly created was “Thanos,” a “Private Ransomware Builder” that was designed to evade antivirus software and had the ability to target specific files by extension. Zagala sold or rented out Thanos to hackers who paid him a monthly fee and also operated an “affiliate” program in which he received a portion of the ransom payment extorted from the victim.
Zagala not only provided his customers with the ransomware software, but also trained them on how to use it effectively. He also boasted about his products and their success on online forums and social media platforms. He claimed that his ransomware was used by Iranian state-sponsored hackers in several high-profile attacks on organizations in the Middle East.
The FBI is looking for Moises Luis Zagala Gonzalez
A ransomware designer who allegedly profited from extorting victims around the world.
Zagala’s alleged activities spanned from April 2019 to March 2021, during which he made thousands of dollars from his ransomware business. He is currently a fugitive and the FBI is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to his arrest.
Zagala’s case is an example of how cybercrime can be perpetrated by anyone, regardless of their profession, nationality or location. It also shows how ransomware can be easily acquired and deployed by malicious actors with little technical skill or knowledge. Ransomware poses a serious threat to the security and privacy of individuals, businesses and governments alike, and requires a coordinated response from law enforcement agencies, cybersecurity experts and users themselves.
Conclusion: The Dark Side of Dr. Zagala
In this article, we have explored the shocking story of how a Venezuelan cardiologist became a wanted cybercriminal. We have seen how Dr. Zagala used his medical skills and knowledge to hack into hospitals, clinics, and medical devices, stealing sensitive data and extorting money from his victims. We have also learned how he evaded capture for years, using sophisticated techniques and tools to hide his identity and location.
But what can we learn from this case? And what can we do to prevent such crimes in the future? Here are some well-intentioned recommendations based on our research:
- Be vigilant about your online security. Use strong passwords, update your software, and avoid clicking on suspicious links or attachments. If you work in the healthcare sector, follow the best practices and guidelines for protecting patient data and medical devices.
- Report any suspicious activity or breach to the authorities. If you notice any signs of hacking or ransomware on your computer or device, don’t ignore them or try to fix them yourself. Contact your IT department or the relevant law enforcement agency as soon as possible.
- Support the efforts of cybersecurity experts and researchers. The fight against cybercrime is a collective one, and we need to work together to find and stop the perpetrators. You can help by sharing information, raising awareness, and donating to organizations that are working to improve cybersecurity and cyberdefense.
- Don’t lose hope or trust in the medical profession. Despite the actions of Dr. Zagala and other rogue doctors, most medical professionals are ethical and dedicated to their patients’ well-being. They deserve our respect and gratitude for their service, especially during these challenging times.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article and learned something new. If you did, please share it with your friends and colleagues. And if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. Thank you for your time and attention.
If you want to learn how to protect your computer from computer viruses, you can read this article.