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Police receive 25,000 crime reports over Vastaamo hacking

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) says the investigation is still ongoing and asks for victims to be patient.

Kuvassa on nimimerkin ransom_man Torilaudalle 21. lokakuuta 2020 tekemä postaus, jossa kerrotaan Vastaamoon kohdistuneesta tietomurrosta.
A post by 'ransom_man' on the Tor network on 21 October 2020 revealing the hacking of Vastaamo's database. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle
Yle News

Police have so far received some 25,000 criminal reports in connection with the hacking of therapy centre Vastamo's database.

The private mental health services company, which has been at the centre of the hacking and blackmail scandal since October, was placed into liquidation in January.

Detective Inspector Marko Leponen of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said the investigation into the data breach is ongoing.

He added that victims have contacted the NBI or police asking for an update, and he called for patience so that the case can be thoroughly investigated.

"As a criminal investigation, this is demanding and successfully conducting it requires that it is done carefully," Leponen said. "The case of every person who has reported a crime has been included in the process, so the police will be in touch when their time in the pre-trial investigation process comes."

"Very frustrated"

Sofia* spoke to Yle about her "very frustrating" experience as a potential victim of the Vastaamo hacking. Her true identity has been concealed because of the sensitive nature of the case.

She was a client of the therapy centre between 2016 and 2018.

"Quite likely I'm in that group of people who had their patient and personal data stolen. Or so I have been told by Vastaamo, when I was in contact with them," Sofia said.

The first sign of problems came even before reports of the database hacking were made public, when Sofia’s email account was shut down.

"Based on the information I received, the reason for the closure was some kind of activity on 'obscure pages'," she recalled.

When reports of the Vastaamo data breach broke in October, Sofia became certain that her information had been stolen too. This suspicion was further enhanced in November when her Instagram account was also closed due to 'obscure traffic'.

Despite the "torturous" wait for more information, Sofia told Yle that she understands things cannot happen very quickly when there are thousands of victims linked to this one case.

Support for victims

When information about the hacking became public and victims began receiving blackmail messages in their emails, many turned to the volunteer organisation Victim Support Finland (RIKU) for support.

During the busiest period, between 22 and 30 October, RIKU received about 1,500 contacts related to the Vastaamo hacking, according to Executive Director Leena-Kaisa Åberg.

"This crime is so exceptional and has affected so many people that it was important to act quickly. The leaking of sensitive patient data to the public is very traumatic." Åberg said, adding that many people have even been left unsure if their personal information was stolen.

Some victims have received official confirmation from Vastaamo that their data was taken, while others have been told that they may have been victims.

Whether a victim knows for certain or not, Åberg emphasised, the situation is still very stressful.

For Sofia, she said she would like to know what happened to her personal information as the police investigation progresses, but she herself has not gone looking for it online.

"I understand that if I would do that, it too would be a crime," she said.

Looking to the future, Sofia said she is more concerned about identity theft than the leaking of her patient data.

"Although the therapy visits are very personal and require the courage to talk about them openly, I assume that the notes made about my visits are very simple," she said, adding that she has considered changing her personal identity number to prevent any possible theft of her identity.

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