The recent WannaCry ransomware attacks had businesses and organizations across the globe scrambling. Hackers demanding Bitcoin payments in exchange for stolen data managed to cripple hospitals and other establishments.
Today, those same hackers have released some plastic surgery patient photos demanding Bitcoin ransom. If the Lithuanian clinic does not pay the ransom amount, hackers will continue to release images.
The Private Data Problem
The WannaCry attacks were due to outdated systems - hackers exploited security flaws in those systems using a tactic developed by the NSA. A large number of medical facilities store patient information (like images) on outdated systems. The plastic surgery clinic that has been most recently hacked is just the latest victim.
Plastic surgery clinics often taken ‘before’ images of patients. Those images are then compared to ‘after’ photos. Since the hackers were able to tap into the clinic’s image database, before images were spread across the internet. Hackers are also contacting patients directly using both images gathered and patient name and address data.
It is unclear how many patients have been exploited by hackers. So far, The Guardian reports that dozens of people have come forward noting that they have been blackmailed. Hackers are sending text messages to patients demanding Bitcoin payment. Lithuanian government officials have noted just how vulnerable the country is to these kinds of hacks.
As it turns out, a large part of the country uses outdated computer systems. Clinics and hospitals are a relatively easy target for hackers - especially plastic surgery clinics. Patients that have had major work done do not want the public to know about surgery, which is why hackers have been successful in exploiting many of these patients.
Keeping Your Systems Safe
Security companies have stated this many times, but other companies are just starting to listen. The best way to make sure that your organization is safe from hacks is to update all systems and software regularly. Even if you just want to protect your home network from hacks, make sure to follow through with updates.
In the case of many hospitals turned victims in the recent ransomware attacks, using a system that is no longer supported (such as an older Windows system) is simply a bad idea. Hackers cannot access data or tap into programs that are updated and secure. The other important measure to take is to always have a backup. In many of the recent hacking cases, no backup data was present resulting in data that was lost forever.
More Hacks to Come
It doesn’t seem like hackers are going to slow down anytime soon. Now that it has been made clear that many companies and organizations across various countries are easily hacked, these cybercriminals will keep asking individuals and organizations for ransom. While it is a crime, it is often hard to track down hackers.
Experts project that more companies and organizations will be hacked in the same way that the aforementioned Lithuanian plastic surgery clinic has been hacked. Governments are urging victims not to negotiate with hackers and not to pay ransomware demands.