Russian hackers post nude pics of cancer patients having treatment in ransom row

Hackers in Russia have posted naked pictures of cancer patients stolen from a hospital network after it refused to fold to their ransom demands.

Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), a Pennsylvania-based group made up of 13 hospitals and 28 health care centres, were told hackers had been in their system for a "long time" and demanded an unspecified amount of money – possibly as high as $1.5million (£1.27million).

The group of hackers known as ALPHV, nicknamed BlackCat, published sensitive matter about patients in the group's care – including the photos – after the hospital network refused to pay up.

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"This unconscionable criminal act takes advantage of patients receiving cancer treatment, and LVHN condemns this despicable behaviour," LVHN said in a statement.

"We will provide notices as required to those whose information was involved."

CEO of the company Brian Nester added they were still identifying information involved in the incident.

On February 6, LVHN spotted unauthorised activity on their computer networks and reported it to police.

But a month later the hackers told the health group they had "been in your network for a long time" and had access to patients' passports, personal data and "nude photos" they were "ready to publish".

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"Our blog is followed by a lot of world media, the case will be widely publicised and will cause significant damage to your business," the threat said.

"Your time is running out. We are ready to unleash our full power on you!"

The healthcare company said the stolen data included three screenshots of "clinically appropriate" snaps of cancer patients in their care receiving radiation oncology treatment and seven documents containing patient information.

However, the hospital refused to pay the sum and the information and pictures were published on the dark web.

ALPHV is also believed to be behind an attack on Italy's state-owned energy company last year.

The group claimed responsibility for hacking Gestore dei Servizi Energetici SpA (GSE) in late August, forcing the group to shut down its websites and systems to stop the attackers from accessing key data.

However, by that point the ransomware group already claimed to have stolen about 700GB of files from the Italian energy agency's servers.

In April 2022, the FBI warned that BlackCat has "extensive networks and experience with ransomware operations" and had breached more than 60 companies globally between November 2021 and March 2022.

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