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Hackers declare 'case closed' as they leak more Australian health data

  • 1 Dec 2022

Hackers appear to end their extortion bid as they dump more customer data from insurer Medibank, which had refused to pay $9.7 million in exchange for hackers keeping the stolen records off the internet.

Medibank says the latest post by hackers was "incomplete and hard to understand". ( Reuters Archive )

The hackers leaking stolen Australian health records to the dark web have appeared to end their extortion attempt by dumping a final batch of data online and declaring: "Case closed."

On Thursday morning, the hackers said they had posted the last of the data online, deliberately coinciding with International Computer Security Day.

"Happy Cyber Security Day," they wrote. 

"Added folder full. Case closed." 

The first batches of stolen data started appearing on a dark web forum on November 9, in curated posts highlighting medical records about drug addiction, pregnancy terminations and sexually transmitted infections. 

Medibank on Thursday said the latest post was "incomplete and hard to understand" — an indication the hackers may have lost interest after a ransom was taken off the table.

In November, the hackers demanded health insurer Medibank pay $9.7 million to keep the records off the internet — or one dollar for each of the company's impacted customers, which included Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Medibank refused to pay at the urging of the federal government, which at the height of the crisis considered making it illegal for hacked companies to hand over ransoms.

"While our investigation continues, there are currently no signs that financial or banking data has been taken," Medibank said in a statement. 

READ MORE: Australia mulling ban on paying ransom to hackers

No banking data stolen

In its latest update, Medibank said there were currently no signs that banking data had been stolen.

Personal details accessed by hackers were not enough to enable financial fraud, it added.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said in November the hackers were believed to be a group of "loosely affiliated cyber criminals" who were based in Russia. 

Cybersecurity analysts have suggested they could be linked to Russian hacker group REvil. 

Australian government ministers have variously dubbed the hackers "scumbags", "scummy criminals", and "rolled gold mongrels".

Australia has been grappling with a recent rise in cyberattacks. At least eight companies, including telecoms company Optus, owned by Singapore Telecommunications, have reported breaches since September.

Technology experts have said Australia has become a target for hackers just as a skills shortage leaves an understaffed, overworked cybersecurity workforce ill-equipped to stop attacks.

READ MORE: Hackers demand $10M to stop Australia health record leaks

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