Cyber attacks are a very big problem in day and age. In a lot of cases, such threats are designed to steal sensitive information from companies and service providers. Australia’s Family Planning NSW recently fell victim to such an attack which saw thousands of patients almost having their sensitive details exposed. The criminals demanded a Bitcoin ransom for the sum of AU$15,000.
The Family Planning NSW Attack Explained
Family Planning NSW is one of the largest sexual health providers in Australia. They serve thousands of clients throughout the country. It also means the organization wields a lot of sensitive information, which poses a big target for hackers and other criminals. A recent cyber attack exposed a few weaknesses in the organization’s website, which left their databases vulnerable. To this day, it remains unclear if anyone effectively had their details exposed in the process.
According to company officials, the attack was never about data theft. Instead, the hackers demand a Bitcoin ransom after infiltrating the website. With numerous attacks happening around the time period, the ulterior motive remains rather unclear. In the ransom message, the attackers threatened to shut down the Family Planning NSW website altogether.
Paying AU$15,000 in ransom is a rather steep amount. There was a timer on the website which showed the amount of time left to make the payment. It is unclear if the ransom has been paid at this stage. The Family Planning NSW website has been shut down to prevent any future attacks or discrepancies. The security weakness used for the previous attack has been addressed as well.
Bitcoin Ransom Requests Remain an Issue
Over the past few years, there has been an influx of criminal activity demanding a Bitcoin ransom. This trend has become most apparent in the malware industry. Various strains of ransomware will lock users out of their computers and won’t restore access until a Bitcoin payment is made. Even so, paying the ransom is no guarantee for getting one’s files unlocked once again.
To many people, Bitcoin has sufficient anonymity features to evade law enforcement scrutiny. That is not entirely correct, as blockchain analysis can be applied to Bitcoin transactions. With this method, officials can track down Bitcoin users sooner or later. It is not a viable tool for criminals by any means. Even so, the correlation between Bitcoin and criminal activity has not slowed down in the slightest.
Attacks such as the one against Family Planning NSW show a lot of online platforms need to beef up their security. For the time being, the Australian Federal Police is still investigating the matter. No internal medical records were exposed, but several databases have been compromised in the end. It is an unfortunate incident, but until website security is improved in general, issues like these will remain a problem.