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Virginia Dept. of Health Professions hacked; $10 million ransom demanded

Remember when ransom notes were created with letters cut from magazines? No more. Now data kidnappers conduct “cryptoviral extortion.”

"ATTENTION VIRGINIA I have your sh**! In *my* possession, right now, are 8,257,378 patient records and a total of 35,548,087 prescriptions. Also, I made an encrypted backup and deleted the original. Unfortunately for Virginia, their backups seem to have gone missing, too. Uhoh :("

The above is the content of a ransom note directed to the Virginia Department of Health Professions. The perpetrator demanded $10 million within seven days and posted the ransom note April 30 on WikiLeaks, a website created by Chinese dissidents and investigative journalists that publishes anonymous submissions of governmental, corporate or religious documents.

In return for the ransom, the hacker promised to return the information and provide the encryption password. If the ransom is not paid, the culprit threatened to “put this baby out on the market and accept the highest bid,” according to the note.

Virginia DHP, an agency that oversees medical practitioners’ licensing, is not responding to calls or emails requesting further information. They have, however, taken down much of their website, and posted their own vague message about the site’s limited accessibility: “… is currently experiencing technical difficulties which affect computer and e-mail systems."

Express Scripts, a prescription management company, received a similar ransom note last October from a data kidnapper who threatened to release millions of patient records.

Last September, a California man was arrested and accused of hacking a Maserati dealership’s site and attempting to extort money in return for the data.

Published May 05 2009, 11:58 AM by IdentityTheft
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