If Finland has been crowned several times as the “happiest country in the world” by the UN, the European country of 5.5 million inhabitants is the most affected by mental illness.
One in five Finns suffers from it *.
You might not want your coworkers to know that when you get upset at night, you run into the forest to howl at the moon, as a novel by Arto Paasilinna, a Finnish writer who died two years ago, tells it. years.
There are also other inclinations that are admittedly cute and less noisy but that you prefer to keep quiet.
Suffice to say that the cyber hackers who got their hands on the data of the company Vastaamo, which manages 25 psychotherapy centers across the country are sitting on a nice nest egg.
Well, that's what they hope for, if they're crazy enough to think they won't be flushed out.
The standards of centers taken by storm
This Monday, anxious patients storm the standards of therapy centers, while some medical files have been published, against a background of blackmail.
Faced with what she describes as an "extremely serious data breach", Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo wanted on Monday to reassure the population so that they do not turn away from mental health services.
Police say “thousands” of patients have already filed complaints and many said they had received emails in which hackers demanded $ 200 in bitcoins to prevent the dissemination of content from their discussions with therapists.
"We are investigating, among other charges, an aggravated security breach and extortion," Robin Lardot, head of the judicial police, told reporters, adding that the number of patients affected could reach several tens of thousands. .
The CEO had concealed a data breach
Vastaamo, who apologized, announced Monday evening that he had fired his CEO Ville Tapio, after the findings of an internal investigation which revealed that he had concealed from the Board of Directors and the company's parent company a data leak in 2019.
The company admitted flaws in the security of its customers' data, "which allowed criminals to break into the database until March 2019," the company said.
For the Finnish cybersecurity company F-Secure, it is the "very first case of the use of ransomware to blackmail individuals on this scale."
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Vastaamo was blackmailed at the end of September and reported to the authorities who advised him not to make it public at that time to protect the investigation.
The hacker messages only started going to patients and staff this weekend.
Security experts have reported that a 10-gigabit file containing private exchanges between at least 2,000 patients and their therapists has appeared on the Dark Web.
The leak, which targeted some of the most vulnerable people in society - including children - caused consternation in the country.
“People are rightly worried not only for their own safety and health, but also for that of their loved ones,” Maria Ohisalo told reporters.
On Monday, police and government departments opened a site for victims of the cyberattack, which aims to give advice, including not paying the ransom demand.
"Do not contact the extortioner, the data has most likely already been disclosed elsewhere," it read.
"Don't be ashamed"
Mental health and victim support associations said Monday they were inundated with calls from people fearing that their conversations with their therapist would be made public.
Among the victims, a former lawmaker tweeted a screenshot of the ransom message accompanied by a provocative response to the hackers.
" Will make you see !
Seeking help is never something to be ashamed of, ”Kirsi Piha wrote.
Vastaus: Haistakaa paska!
Avun pyytämisessä ei ole koskaan mitään hävettävää.
# rikosilmoitustatehdessä pic.twitter.com/tDtoOeCZy5
- Kirsi Piha (@kirsipiha) October 24, 2020
According to Mikko Hyppönen, research director at F-Secure, only one other similar case of blackmail is known to date: in 2019, a facial reconstruction clinic in Florida had a lot of data stolen, but in "less quantity" .
Encryption not sophisticated enough
On Monday, the Finnish social services regulatory authority said it was investigating Vastaamo's practices, including how patients were kept informed of the leak.
For the head of the national agency for digital services (DVV) Kimmo Rousku, the cyberattack could have been avoided if Vastaamo had used better encryption.
* Based on OECD data, in 2018.