Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ransom clock is ticking down

Only hours remain to meet the demands of hackers who broke into the Virginia Department of Health database and downloaded millions of prescription records that the state keeps on narcotics and painkillers. The hackers replaced the site's home page with a ransom note demanding ten million dollars for a password to restore access to the database.

"It's an odd and puzzling crime," said Dale Bennett of the FBI. "Particularly odd was their choice of password - 'OxyCotton'. It only took us about an hour to crack that one. If they'd been able to spell OxyContin correctly, we would have cracked it in under five minutes."

"Right now, our biggest challenge is figuring out what they plan on doing if we don't pay the ransom," explains Bennett. "They've got it all set up with a PayPal account, and those things are so secure that we don't have a prayer of identifying the owner. But ten million dollars, that's a lot to pay for a bunch of prescription data. I guess it's conceivable that they might try going through the data and trying to find somebody to blackmail, but I don't know, it seems that Rush Limbaugh has made it perfectly acceptable for an American citizen to take all the prescription drugs they want."

"There's a very good chance that we'll just let the deadline pass without taking action," says Sandra Whitley Ryals, the director of Virginia's Department of Health. "My kid's got a softball game this evening, and quite frankly, I'm not sure why the heck we started tracking this type of information to begin with."

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