Extortion in the Digital Age

By Jordan Robertson - 2012-09-07T22:30:48Z

Photograph by DreamPictures

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Dose of Reality

The Surgeons of Lake County, a small medical practice in the affluent northern Illinois suburb of Libertyville, revealed in July that hackers had burrowed deeply into its computer network where e-mails and electronic medical records were stored. The hackers took the extreme step of encrypting their illicit haul and posted a digital ransom note demanding payment for the password. The incident showcases an unsettling new strain of opportunism that is emerging as criminals try to exploit the health care industry's shift to digital medical records.

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