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Hackers release Medibank abortion data in Australia

Medibank said on Thursday that hackers released abortion information of some customers. Photo courtesy of Medibank
Medibank said on Thursday that hackers released abortion information of some customers. Photo courtesy of Medibank

Nov. 10 (UPI) -- Hackers who stole customer data from Australia's largest health insurer Medibank increased pressure on the company by releasing abortion information of policyholders on the dark web Thursday.

The alleged cybercriminals took the step after Medibank went public with their plans not to pay a ransom to get back the information. Hackers said they asked for about $10 million for the 9.7 million Medibank customers and former customers.

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"The release of this stolen data on the dark web is disgraceful," Medibank CEO David Koczkar said in a statement. "We take the responsibility to secure our customer data seriously and we again unreservedly apologize to our customers.

"We remain committed to fully and transparently communicating with customers and we will be contacting customers whose data has been released on the dark web."

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Koczkar warned that the release of such information could have a chilling effect on those seeking abortion and other medical procedures that customers may want to keep private.

"The weaponization of people's private information in an effort to extort payment is malicious, and it is an attack on the most vulnerable members of our community," Koczkar said. "These are real people behind this data and the misuse of their data is deplorable and may discourage them from seeking medical care."

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Medibank in its public message discouraged the public and the media from accessing the information, suggesting it would only encourage the suspects to additional attacks.

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Australian Home Secretary Clare O'Neil called on Australians this week to be vigilant about possible scams and security involving their digital accounts.

"Secure and monitor your devices and accounts for unusual activities," O'Neil said on Twitter. "Ensure they have the latest security updates. Enable multi-factor authentication for all accounts."

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