Tuesday 10/26/21
CYBER EXTORTION

Police to interview victims of Vastaamo psychotherapy centre hack

The offences under investigation comprise an aggravated computer break-in, aggravated dissemination of information violating personal privacy and aggravated extortion.
Hacking cyber criminal cyber attack by Pixabay
Image: Pixabay.

The criminal investigation initiated in October by Finland's National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) into the hacking of psychotherapy centre Vastaamo's sensitive data is ongoing.

According to police information, victims of the hacking "have made a record number of crime reports." The case is the largest sensitive information theft scandal in Finland, a society that claims to be at the forefront of digitalization.

The Vastaamo private psychotherapy center offered psychological and psychiatric treatment to patients suffering from disorders such as depression and anxiety. But many of the clients came from public services paid for by the Finnish Social Security (Kela).

In October 2020, a group of cyber criminals managed to access the database of thousands of customers of the company after finding vulnerabilities in their system.

The data - including patients personal information and the content of the psychotherapy sessions - was stolen and published on the deep web.

The perpetrators of the attack demanded high ransoms from both the company and the patients in exchange for suspending publication.

More than 25,000 victims

More than 25,000 reports have been filed so far in relation to extortion of victims of the Vastaamo hacking incident. The police believe, however, that the number of victims is even higher than those that emerged. Police officers will start interviewing victims in the autumn.

As victims of crime, who report the criminal incident to the police, Vastaamo's customers will become parties in the criminal proceedings

The offences under investigation comprise an aggravated computer break-in, aggravated dissemination of information violating personal privacy and aggravated extortion.

"A computer break-in is a complex crime to investigate, and in a massive case like this the workload is huge. But we are making good progress in the investigation. Hopefully, we will be able to start interviewing victims in the autumn. We hope that victims of extortion would have reported the crime before that," says Head of Investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Marko Leponen of the NBI.

Emotional support and advice

Victim Support Finland (RIKU) has worked with the National Bureau of Investigation and supported the victims since information about the hacking was published in the media in October 2020.

It continues to provide advice and support in the different stages of the criminal procedure, such as in reporting a crime online.

Comprehensive advice for victims is also provided on the website of Victim Support Finland.

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