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Ransomware Attack Hits Celebrity Cosmetic Surgery Chain

The Hospital Group is known to carry out cosmetic surgeries for celebrities. The various cosmetic procedures help them surprise fans with amazing cosmetic transformation on these celebrities. However, the hospital itself was surprised recently with a ransomware attack.

What happened?

A Russian group of hackers called “REvil” recently revealed it had collated a list of celebrity ‘before and after’ photos of cosmetic procedures. They have posted an announcement on the dark web. They are said to have “intimate photos of the customers” and “not a completely pleasant sight”.

This startling news has created ripples in the world of cybersecurity and entertainment alike. Armed with around 900GB of data in the form of images, the hackers have held to ransom The Hospital Group.

Though many sources offer differing opinions about how this may have happened, there is a trend in their modus operandi. They typically use the Remote Desktop Protocol to gain unauthorized access of the admin desktop and hack into confidential data.

Security experts have a quick solution to enable other companies to overcome this attempt at breaching the internal data. They suggest deactivating RDP on computer systems of the company. They also have a simple solution to prevent such ransomware attacks (or recurrence) – to update the software with the latest updates.

What next?

The Hospital Group has confirmed the occurrence of this unfortunate event. They have also informed Information Commissioner about the attack. It runs 11 clinics that specialize in cosmetic procedures like breast enhancements, bariatric weight loss surgery, and rhinoplasty.

They also informed their customers about the breach with this statement “We can confirm that our IT systems have been subject to a data security breach,”. Considering the fact that it has a long lineup of celebrity endorsement, a sense of panic has set in with this breach of personal data. The hospital has confirmed that none of their patients’ payment card information has been attacked in this breach. However, they have acknowledged that there is every chance that some of the patient details have been accessed.

It is interesting to note that many images do not have the patient’s face on the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos.

What do the customers say?

The celebrities are understandably perturbed about the issue. Their prominence in the public arena makes them vulnerable to a lot of outrage. The list of celebrity endorsements includes past Big Brother contestant Aisleyne Horgan-Wallace who underwent breast enhancement surgery in 2099.

However, when BBC spoke to one of the past patients, he refused point-blank that the group has informed him about the ransomware. He says that he did receive an email about a “data security incident”, but didn’t clearly mention that it was a ransomware attack. Plus he was concerned because of this attack, his confidential surgery would become public knowledge. There was a risk that his friends and family too would come to know about it.

To conclude

Law enforcement officers recommend not paying the ransomware but with such sensitive data in the wrong hands, seldom do the victims refrain from paying up. In this case, the media glare on celebrities meant that The Hospital Group was a chosen target by the hacker group.