What was old is new again and so it is particularly fitting that on the first day of the new year, we look at a recent scam about which I warned you three times back in 2017, namely ransomware attacks on medical care facilities that perform cosmetic surgery. In 2017 I told you about such ransomware attacks on clinics in the United States, the UK and Lithuania. Now it is Great Britain’s Transform Hospital Group which claims to be Great Britain’s leading cosmetic surgery provider with eleven clinics that has suffered a ransomware attack in which the hackers, a group known as REvil is threatening to release embarrassing before and after photos of patients of Transform Hospital Group unless a ransom is paid. Ransomware is most commonly downloaded into the computers of companies, government agencies and individuals when someone clicks on a ransomware infected link contained in a spear phishing email that lures the targeted victim into clicking on the link under some legitimate appearing pretense.
This is yet another example of the fact that regardless of how vigilant you are at protecting your privacy, you are only as secure as the places with the weakest security that have your personal data, photographs or anything related to you. The key, in particular, when you do business with any person, company or other entity that will have anything you would want to keep private, is to inquire as to what they do to protect your privacy and security. Too many companies and other entities fail miserably at taking basic security precautions including encryption. Medical practices continue to be a prime target for cybercriminals and identity thieves because they are often quite vulnerable to cyberattacks. Unfortunately, there is little that we as consumers and patients can do other than to limit the amount of personal information we provide, as best we can. For example, your doctor does not need your Social Security number. We should also inquire of anyone or any entity that retains our personal information about what they do to secure that information.
For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.” Scamicide has been cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.
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