Hacking Group Attempts to Extort Funds from Cancer Services Provider

TheDarkOverlord has struck again, this time the victim was a small Indiana cancer charity. The attack occurred on January 11 and was accompanied with a 50 Bitcoin ($43,000) ransom demand. Little Red Door Cancer Services of East Central Indiana was threatened with the publication of confidential data if the ransom was not paid.

The charitable organization provides a range of services to help victims of cancer live normal lives during treatment, recovery, and at end of life. Little Red Door provides an invaluable service to cancer patients in East Central Indiana, with its limited funds carefully spent to provide the maximum benefit to cancer patients and their families.

The payment of a $43,000 ransom would have had a significant impact on the good work the organization does, and would have taken funding away from the people who need it most. Little Red Door followed the advice of the FBI and refused to pay.

Little Red Door spokesperson, Aimee Fant, issued a statement saying the organization “will not pay a ransom when all funds raised must instead go to serving families, all stage cancer clients, late stage care/hospice support and preventative screenings.”

The ransom demand was first sent to company executives, its vice president and president by text message. Messages were sent to their personal cell phones. The ransom demand and threats were also followed with email demands. The ransom demand was later reduced to around $12,000, although payment will still not be made. The stolen data included documents pertaining to grants, donors, employees, and the organization’s operations.

In addition to threatening to publish the data, TheDarkOverlord allegedly also issued a threat to contact the families of cancer patients, as well as the organization’s partners and donors.

Previous attacks by TheDarkOverlord have involved data theft. This time around, data were stolen and the company’s database and physical backups were wiped. Fortunately, patient diagnoses and other client information were on paper files.

Little Red Door has a cloud storage backup containing most of its data. Systems and databases will be rebuilt and data reconstructed. The cancer agency expects its IT systems to be back up and running by the end of this week. After recovery, Little Red Door will fully transition to a cloud-based system.

Little Red Door has received assistance from a number of organizations. A spokesperson for the organization said it “extends its immense gratitude to all who have helped in its efforts to gain control of the ransom attack and sincerely apologizes for any inconvenience and distress experienced on account of this act of cyberterrorism.”

Author: Steve Alder has many years of experience as a journalist, and comes from a background in market research. He is a specialist on legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA. Steve holds a B.Sc. from the University of Liverpool.