An Emerging Information Security Threat

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An emerging information security threat is the use of “Ransomware” by hackers. A recent example occurred in 2012 when Russian hackers held the Miami Family Medical Centre in Queensland to ransom after accessing their server remotely and running encryption software on it, encrypting thousands of patient health records. The hackers encrypted the whole SQL database, about 6500 files, by going through and searching for every doc, xls, txt, pdf, mdb, mdf i.e. all of the standard data files. The hackers accessed the data through a Remote Desk Protocol (RDP) port that was open and part of the standard Windows 2003 Small Business Server Premium package. The hackers cracked the user and password restricted access.…show more content…
The owners of the Medical Practice thought they had a good system in place, they had antivirus but this was not a virus. The hackers were very strategic in their attack. Quite apart from deliberately exploiting a vulnerable flaw in the medical practice’s IT security, they made sure the ransom they demanded was not ridiculously high to maximise the chances of the victim’s likelihood to pay. They chose a medical practice probably because they thought doctors had money and a compelling motive to pay the ransom. Fortunately the owners had a partial back up of the data and while they didn’t recover completely they were eventually able to get back to business but only after a very long time. In this case bringing the hackers to justice was impossible. IT security expert Nigel Phair, the director of the Centre for Internet Safety and a former investigator with the Australian High-Tech Crime Centre, says “the hackers are not easy to trace and international police investigations are difficult. In a lot of those places law enforcement isn 't that strong and so it 's difficult to get cooperation with local police." (, Accessed 7 October 2014) Mr Phair says this attack is a "wake-up call" with businesses around Australia hacked five to ten times a week. "Cyber criminals based mainly throughout Eastern Europe look for rich targets with identifying information
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