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The state has refused to pay the $10M ransom demand

Days after it was revealed a hacker successfully compromised the Virginia Health database and stole records of more than 8 million patients; the state of Virginia announced it will not pay a requested $10 million ransom.

The database is used by pharmacies and doctors to track narcotics and painkiller prescriptions, in an attempt to reduce the amount of abuse, theft and illegal sales of popular prescription drugs.

Both the Virginia state police and FBI are looking into the matter, with Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine saying this is a "crime and it is being treated that way."

The state has refused to pay the ransom, and will instead rely on the FBI's investigation to locate and prosecute the people responsible for this data intrusion.

Since the breach last week, the Department of Health Professions shut down its computer network, and all data has been successfully backed up.  The DHP has issued a statement saying it can "assure the public that all precautions are being taken for DHP operations to continue safely and securely."

Hackers’ attempts to steal personal information or hold data for ransom has increased in popularity, with hackers routinely stealing Social Security Numbers and other personal information so it can be sold to identity thieves.  There is a growing concern over foreign-based hacker groups that are bankrolled by countries such as China and Russia, who are targeting U.S.-based computer networks.

The FBI hasn't said if they believe this data intrusion to be the work of foreign hackers, but it's a link they're likely looking into during the investigation.

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RE: It just goes to show....
By Alexvrb on 5/8/2009 10:25:27 PM , Rating: 2
VA is far from the only state participating in this program. It is perhaps the best way to track abuse of prescription drugs. It is unfortunate that we have to do this in the first place, as many people have a legitimate use for doctor-prescribed controlled substances (eg narcotic painkillers) from time to time.

The only real concerns I have are that they should protect the data better, and be more diligent about backups.

Oh, and to Mr. Barkoviak: thanks for putting the important details (second paragraph) in this one. The last article you wrote on this topic did not fully elucidate the actual damage or impact, which was not significant to citizens of VA. Unless of course, it contained something more valuable than names and prescription info. However, it is a substantial blow to the state government, or perhaps a wake up call.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
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