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Hacker holds patient health information for ransom

Healthcare Auditing Weekly, May 12, 2009

A Virginia hacker is asking for $10 million in exchange for the safe return of the personal health and prescription drug information of 8.3 million patients, HealthLeaders Media reported on May 5.

The hacker allegedly stole the information from the Virginia Prescription Monitoring Program’s (VPMP) Web site, which tracks prescription drug abuse and contains 35.5 million prescriptions in addition to enrollees’ personal information, including names, social security numbers, and addresses.

The hacker, who replaced the VPMP site with a ransom note, claims to have deleted the original back-up file for the information and created a new password-protected back-up file.

The VPMP site and the Virginia Department of Health Professions site are both temporarily disabled and the incident is under federal investigation.

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