April 18, 2014, 3:30 PM — Almost 500,000 patient records have been hacked from the servers of the Harley Medical Group, the plastic surgery firm which has clinics across the UK.
Following the breach the hackers attempted to extort money from the company. According to Harley Medical Group, the information was stolen from its website enquiry system.
The hackers are said to have gleaned some 480,000 records containing potential clients' names, addresses, dates of birth, email addresses and telephone numbers, in addition to the details of the cosmetic procedure they were interested in.
In a statement, Harley Medical Group said it had no reason to believe that further clinical or financial information was accessed in the hack, and that it had informed the police and the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) about the data breach.
It said: "We acted immediately when we became aware that an individual had deliberately bypassed our website security, gaining access to contact information from initial inquiries, in an attempt to extort money from the company."
It went on: "The police and the Information Commissioner were notified and we contacted everyone whose inquiry may have been accessed to apologise and to reassure them that all clinical and financial records remain totally secure. We have taken action to further strengthen the security around website inquiries."
There are now fears that the hackers will use the information to try and blackmail some of those on the lists about their interest in having plastic surgery done, with speculation that some of those contacting the surgery may have been celebrities.
Many who have plastic surgery done are also well off, so the hackers will know their bank accounts are good hacking targets too.