Sensitive information about 40,000 psychiatric patients going astray – VG

BURGLARY: A comprehensive data breach has been carried out at the psychiatric health institution Vastaamo in Helsinki. Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Personal numbers, addresses and medical records of tens of thousands of patients have been stolen. Patients are now being pressured for money to avoid publishing the information.

Hackers have broken into the computer system of the Finnish psychotherapy center Vastaamo, and sensitive information about several hundred patients, including minors, is already leaked on the dark web.

The burglars demanded close to five million kroner from the center to stop the publication, but when this did not succeed, the hackers began to pressure the patients themselves for money.

SHOCKED: Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin says authorities are now investigating how they can help the victims of the data breach. Photo: ANTTI AIMO-KOIVISTO / Lehtikuva

– The hackers’ burglary is shocking in many ways. The victims now need support and help. The authorities are now investigating the ways in which they can help the victims, writes Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin on her Twitter account.

On Sunday, a crisis meeting was held about the scandal, which is increasing in scope, in the Finnish government.

The center apologizes

On Saturday, the hackers began to make direct contact with the patients they have stolen data about. Patients are offered to pay around 5500 kroner in bitcoins to avoid having personal data published.

One of the victims is the Finnish parliamentarian Eeva-Johanna Eloranta, who has been demanded to pay 500 euros in bitcoin.

– As a company that offers therapy classes, confidentiality of patient information is extremely important to us and the starting point for all our business. We strongly apologize for the leak as a result of the data breach, writes the chairman of the board of Vastaamo, Tuomas Kahri in a press release.

– Exceptional case

The National Finnish Criminal Police (KRP), corresponding to Norwegian Kripos, held a press conference on the data breach on Sunday. They discourage victims from paying ransom, and encourage them to report.

– What makes this case so exceptional is the sensitivity of the stolen material and the large number of victims. We are doing everything we can to find those responsible, said KRP chief Robin Lardot, according to the Finnish newspaper Ilta Sanomat.

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Lardot said police are using all available resources to investigate the huge data breach.

Police are also investigating whether Vastaamo has fulfilled its obligations to protect sensitive data, and whether it was a targeted attack.

– The investigation has so far not revealed that Vastaamo was a specific target. Today, all companies that collect personal information are vulnerable to this type of crime, Lardot said.

– Can do extra damage

– This is very sensitive personal information that can do extra great damage when it goes astray, and this shows how much value such information has, says senior adviser at the Norwegian Center for Information Security (NorSIS), Trude Talberg-Furulund.

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She says that the data breach in Finland also shows why those who manage such information have a special responsibility to handle it in a good way. If it turns out to be a targeted data breach, Talberg-Furulund believes that it says something about the threat picture those who store such information have.

– Our advice to anyone who is pressured for money is not to pay. There is never any guarantee that those who sit on these files will actually return them to you and delete the information if you pay. If you pay, it also helps to finance this type of crime.

– I do not want to think that we in Norway are any safer when it comes to data breaches. If it is a targeted attack, it will probably be as safe or unsafe here as in Finland, she says.

Published: 26.10.20 at 02:15

Updated: 26.10.20 at 02:30

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