From Identity Theft to Medical Data Kidnapping

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The world of computer hacking and identity theft took on a new element recently when Virginia officials were told to pay a ransom in order to reclaim personal data and prescription records for millions of residents. The site of the break-in was the Virginia Prescription Monitoring Program, which tracks prescription drug abuse, where the records of 8.3 million people were stored—until a hacker claimed to have copied all the data and destroyed the original files.

The culprit replaced the agency’s regular homepage with a taunting note that reportedly read: “Attention Virginia! I have your [expletive]! In *my* possession, right now, are 8,257,378 patient records and a total of 35,548,087 prescriptions.” State officials did not confirm whether they had indeed lost the original prescription records to the hacker, who demanded $10 million in ransom. The FBI is investigating the crime.
According to, the Virginia cyber caper is not the first time hackers have tried to collect money through computer infiltrations. In 1989 the PC Cyborg Trojan not only encrypted files on computers but also told users to pay a fee to the PC Cyborg Corporation if they wanted their files fixed.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Hacker Says He Stole Confidential Medical Data on 8 Million Virginia Residents (by Molly Merrill and Chip Means, Healthcare IT News)
Hacking of Prescription Database May Lead to Headaches (by Bill Sizemore, Virginian-Pilot)
Hackers Want Millions For Data on Prescriptions (by Brian Krebs and Anita Kumar, Washington Post)


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