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Internet security attacks on the rise in 2017

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May 31, 2017

Web security breaches and malware attacks are mounting rapidly this year, and the trend appears relentless. Case in point: it appears that thousands of private photos have been leaked by a group of cybercriminals following the attack of a cosmetic surgery clinic located in Lithuania.

Using the nickname "Tsar Team", a hacking group leaked a lot of images it claims came from the Grozio Chirurgija clinic servers.

The gang compromised the data after it targeted some health facility customers that failed to meet ransom payment demands.

According to local police, a segment of a stolen customer database was released in March prior to the sending of sensitive photos including nude images of patients yesterday.

Police say that dozens of patients have come forward to report getting blackmailed. "It’s extortion. We’re talking about a serious crime," the deputy chief of Lithuania’s criminal police bureau Andzejus Raginskis asserted.

Cybercriminals were demanding ransom payments of between €50 and €2,000 payable in Bitcoin, with higher fees demanded depending on the sensitivity of the compromised data.

Nude photos, passport scans and national insurance numbers were among the items that rapidly bumped up the attacker's ransom fees.

The hackers switched to targeting specific individuals after failing to get the clinic itself to cave in to a demand to hand over 300 bitcoin (US $661,000 at current prices), later reduced to 50 Bitcoin.

The clinic refused to pay up since even if it did pay the hackers, there'd be little to stop them from retaining several copies of the compromised photos and then coming back later for more cash.

Worse, more than 1,500 patients from Britain feature on the clinic's database. It's unclear for now what percentage of those people (if any) have been targeted.

Jonas Staikunas, the director of Grozio Chirurgija, apologized to its customers and told local media-- "Cybercriminals are blackmailers. They are extorting our clients with inappropriate text messages."

Affected patients are being strongly advised not to act on extortion demands which the clinic said ought to be forwarded to the police. It also urged its customers to be wary of possible malware and phishing scams.

Source: The Guardian.

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