New Delhi: A US-based cybersecurity firm on Thursday said hackers stole 68 lakh records of patient and doctor information from a leading India-based healthcare website.
According to IANS, the firm, FireEye, did not mention the website, but said Chinese cyber criminals were selling data stolen from healthcare organisations and web portals in “underground markets”. The data was stolen from many countries, including India, according to the report.
The firm shared the report with IANS, which reported it as stating:
“In February, a bad actor that goes by the name “fallensky519″ stole 6,800,000 records associated with an India-based healthcare website that contains patient information and personally identifiable information (PII), doctor information and PII and credentials.”
FireEye observed multiple instances of healthcare-associated databases being sold on underground forums, sometimes for less than $2,000, between October 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019. The firm said “it continues to witness a concerted focus on acquiring healthcare research by multiple Chinese advanced persistent threat (APT) groups”.
“In particular, it is likely that an area of unique interest is cancer-related research, reflective of China’s growing concern over increasing cancer and mortality rates, and the accompanying national health care costs,” the cybersecurity agency’s report says, according to IANS.
Another probable motivation to steal the data is to sell it to China’s domestic pharmaceutical firms, a fast-growing sector in the country. This would benefit those firms which provide oncology treatments or services, the report says.
“Targetting medical research and data from studies may enable Chinese corporations to bring new drugs to market faster than Western competitors,” the report claimed.
There have been previous reported instaces of Chinese cyber criminals targeting healthcare services. In April, suspected Chinese hackers targeted a US health centre focusing on cancer research. Other Chinese groups have also targeted this organisation previously.
Also in April, researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Research centre were dismissed on suspicion of stealing medical research for the Chinese government.
According to IANS, FireEye observed that Chinese hackers who steal healthcare data steal sets of “personally identifiable information (PII) and Protected Health Information (PHI)”. Apart from groups operating from China, FireEye said Russian actors also target the healthcare sector.
“The valuable research being conducted within some of these institutions continues to be an attractive target for nation-states seeking to leapfrog their domestic industries,” the firm’s report said.