Extortion in the Digital Age

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

Photograph by Dwight Eschliman

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Prescription for Trouble

In 2009, health officials in Virginia got an alarming note: Hackers demanded they pay $10 million or else millions of stolen prescription-drug records would be sold on the black market. The Virginia Department of Health Professions had collected more than 35 million prescription records as part of a program to curb the illegal sale of painkillers and other addictive drugs.

Officials downplayed the threat, saying that only 530,000 patients had records with Social Security numbers. The state refused to pay, and after the deadline passed, there weren't any obvious signs of retaliation, according to the Washington Post.