July 18, 2024
Man Who Mass-Extorted Psychotherapy Sufferers Will get Six Years – Krebs on Safety

A 26-year-old Finnish man was sentenced to greater than six years in jail as we speak after being convicted of hacking into a web-based psychotherapy clinic, leaking tens of hundreds of affected person remedy data, and trying to extort the clinic and sufferers.

On October 21, 2020, the Vastaamo Psychotherapy Middle in Finland grew to become the goal of blackmail when a tormentor recognized as “ransom_man” demanded cost of 40 bitcoins (~450,000 euros on the time) in return for a promise to not publish extremely delicate remedy session notes Vastaamo had uncovered on-line.

Ransom_man introduced on the darkish net that he would begin publishing 100 affected person profiles each 24 hours. When Vastaamo declined to pay, ransom_man shifted to extorting particular person sufferers. Based on Finnish police, some 22,000 victims reported extortion makes an attempt concentrating on them personally, focused emails that threatened to publish their remedy notes on-line except paid a 500 euro ransom.

Finnish prosecutors rapidly zeroed in on a suspect: Julius “Zeekill” Kivimäki, a infamous legal hacker convicted of committing tens of hundreds of cybercrimes earlier than he grew to become an grownup. After being charged with the assault in October 2022, Kivimäki fled the nation. He was arrested 4 months later in France, hiding out underneath an assumed identify and passport.

Antti Kurittu is a former legal investigator who labored on an investigation involving Kivimäki’s use of the Zbot botnet, amongst different actions Kivimäki engaged in as a member of the hacker group Hack the Planet (HTP).

Kurittu mentioned the prosecution had demanded a minimum of seven years in jail, and that the sentence handed down was six years and three months. Kurittu mentioned prosecutors knocked a couple of months off of Kivimäki’s sentence as a result of he agreed to pay compensation to his victims, and that Kivimäki will stay in jail throughout any attraction course of.

“I believe the sentencing was as anticipated, figuring out the Finnish judicial system,” Kurittu informed KrebsOnSecurity. “As Kivimäki has not been sentenced to a non-suspended jail sentence over the last 5 years, he shall be handled as a first-timer, his earlier convictions however.”

However as a result of juvenile convictions in Finland don’t depend in the direction of figuring out whether or not anyone is a first-time offender, Kivimäki will find yourself serving roughly half of his sentence.

“This looks as if a brief sentence when making an allowance for the gravity of his actions and the life-altering penalties to hundreds of individuals, nevertheless it’s nearly the utmost the legislation permits for,” Kurittu mentioned.

Kivimäki initially gained notoriety as a self-professed member of the Lizard Squad, a primarily low-skilled hacker group that specialised in DDoS assaults. However American and Finnish investigators say Kivimäki’s involvement in cybercrime dates again to a minimum of 2008, when he was launched to a founding member of what would quickly grow to be HTP.

Finnish police mentioned Kivimäki additionally used the nicknames “Ryan”, “RyanC” and “Ryan Cleary” (Ryan Cleary was truly a member of a rival hacker group — LulzSec — who was sentenced to jail for hacking).

Kivimäki and different HTP members had been concerned in mass-compromising net servers utilizing identified vulnerabilities, and by 2012 Kivimäki’s alias Ryan Cleary was promoting entry to these servers within the type of a DDoS-for-hire service. Kivimäki was 15 years outdated on the time.

In 2013, investigators going by units seized from Kivimäki discovered laptop code that had been used to crack greater than 60,000 net servers utilizing a beforehand unknown vulnerability in Adobe’s ColdFusion software program. KrebsOnSecurity detailed the work of HTP in September 2013, after the group compromised servers inside knowledge brokers LexisNexis, Kroll, and Dun & Bradstreet.

The group used the identical ColdFusion flaws to interrupt into the Nationwide White Collar Crime Middle (NWC3), a non-profit that gives analysis and investigative assist to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

As KrebsOnSecurity reported on the time, this small ColdFusion botnet of knowledge dealer servers was being managed by the identical cybercriminals who’d assumed management over SSNDOB, which operated one of many underground’s most dependable companies for acquiring Social Safety Quantity, dates of delivery and credit score file data on U.S. residents.

Kivimäki was answerable for making an August 2014 bomb threat towards former Sony On-line Leisure President John Smedley that grounded an American Airways aircraft. Kivimäki additionally was concerned in calling in a number of faux bomb threats and “swatting” incidents — reporting faux hostage conditions at an handle to immediate a closely armed police response to that location.

Ville Tapio, the previous CEO of Vastaamo, was fired and likewise prosecuted following the breach. Ransom_man bragged about Vastaamo’s sloppy safety, noting the corporate had used the laughably weak username and password “root/root” to guard delicate affected person data.

Investigators later discovered Vastaamo had initially been hacked in 2018 and once more in 2019, however that Tapio by no means informed anybody in regards to the intrusions till ransom_man started his extortion spree. In April 2023, a Finnish courtroom handed down a three-month sentence for Tapio, however that sentence was suspended as a result of he had no earlier legal file.