New police warnings about blackmail demands for leaked therapy records

Police say individual patients have started to receive demands for cryptocurrency payments in connection with data breach.

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File picture inside Vastamo Tampere office / Credit: Vastamo

The National Bureau of Investigation NBI says that a number of people have received blackmail demands connected with a data breach at Vastaamo, a company that offers psychotherapy services.

Vastaamo revealed earlier this week they’d been the victim of hacking, and that confidential patient information was being held for ransom.

Now the NBI says they’re aware that blackmail emails have been sent directly to Vastaamo patients, threatening to reveal personal information.

“We must not agree to the demands of the blackmail message” says Marko Leponen from NBI.

Police are advising anyone who receives one of these messages to file an electronic crime report, recording all information about the sender and when the message was received; to save any emails, messages or other evidence.

Finland’s Cyber Security Centre has published a list of common Q&As regarding the Vastaamo hacking, and what people should do if they think their information has been leaked. That information is also available in English.

Meanwhile the Crime Victim Support Service RIKU is open during Sunday from 13:00 to 17:00 for anyone affected by the Vastaamo data breach or who might have received a blackmail demand. Their free helpline number is 116 006.

File image of computer, cyber / Credit: iStock

What has happened so far in this case? 

On Wednesday Vastaamo revealed they had been the victims of a data breach, with hackers demanding €450,000 in digital currency to stop them releasing sensitive patient information – which Vastaamo did not pay.

According to Finnish media reports the data of around 300 patients has been taken by the hackers.

Vastaamo has offices in 20 cities around Finland, including Helsinki, Joensuu, Jyväskylä, Pori, Turku and Tampere.

Some information was leaked on Thursday and Friday, and by Saturday night the National Bureau of Investigation says individual patients were contacted with demands for €200-worth of bitcoins to be sent within 24 hours. If the customers don’t comply with the demands their personal details, including conversations with therapists, will be published.

Police say it’s is not clear at this point whether the hackers who originally got hold of the data are the same parties now trying to blackmail patients and demanding money from them.