Reports: Indiana Cancer Services Agency Hacked, Won’t Pay Ransom | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

Reports: Indiana Cancer Services Agency Hacked, Won’t Pay Ransom

January 19, 2017
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Earlier this month, Cancer Services of East Central Indiana- Little Red Door’s terminal server and backup drive were hacked by cybercriminal TheDarkOverlord, leading to a ransom demand that the cancer services facility will not pay, according to media reports.

A WTHR report noted that the Muncie, Ind.-based cancer services agency witnessed the hack of its terminal server and backup drive, as the agency's data was stripped, encrypted and taken for ransom by the international cyberterrorism organization on the night of Jan. 11. “They got a ransom demand for 50 bitcoins ($43,000) the next night,” according to the report.

Rather than pay the ransom, the facility’s director said it “won't pay and will now replace its server with a more secure [cloud-based] system.” Further according to the report, “The self-identified ‘dark web’ organization threatened to contact family members of living and deceased cancer clients, donors and community partners. They made the demands first via text message to the personal cell phones of Little Red Door's executive director, president and vice president, then with a form letter and several detailed emails.”

Aimee Fant, executive director for Little Red Door, said, “We were sitting right here and we connected the dots and realized we had been hacked and were being held for ransom…The agency has a shoestring budget. They wanted $43,000. We were devastated.” At first, leaders of the agency figured they would pay the ransom, but then realized the consequences of doing so, according to WTHR. The organization understood that $43,000 was more than the annual mammogram budget. If they paid, the cost would be much higher, they realized, per the report from WTHR.

"We help people stay alive. We help people, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say we save lives. We help women gain access to mammograms and early detection that otherwise they wouldn't have. At first, we were shocked and then we got angry," Fant said. The board, armed with the knowledge that no donors, clients, or family personal information was compromised, eventually decided to ignore the hackers' demands to contact the FBI.

"The level of sinister threats they made, that they were going to contact family members of the deceased and horrible things. Whatever it would take to get us to pay. It's a despicable thing. To look into an agency that provides care for people who are dying, that's sad. They only want money," Fant added, per the report.

It should be noted that website, who reported the hack itself, is now reporting something different from other media outlets. It said that an encrypted chat with TheDarkOverlord revealed that ransomware was not involved in the attack. It reported, “TDO did what it has done in the past to other targets: it hacked LRD, exfiltrated their data, and then demanded payment not to release the data publicly. In this case, they also wiped the server (but not the backup). TDO stated that the ransom/extortion was for them not to publicly release (leak) the data.” The website said that the statements by Fant “contained errors or somewhat misleading explanations.”

The agency is still continuing to serving cancer clients and will be running at full capacity by the end of the week.

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