A Gold Coast, Australian medical centre computers are infected with some ransom malware by a group of Russian hackers. The hackers encrypted the practice's patient database, demanding payment of $4000 for the files to be decrypted.
"Cyber criminals based mainly throughout Eastern Europe look for rich targets, places with identifying information to extort," Mr Phair, director of the Centre for Internet Safety and a former investigator with the Australian High-Tech Crime Centre.
There have been 11 similar offences in Queensland this year, according to police. David Wood, Miami Family Medical Centre's co-owner said, "We've got all the anti-virus stuff in place - there's no sign of a virus. They literally got in, hijacked the server and then ran their encryption software".
The server with encrypted information is being held offline and an IT contractor is working with the practice to restore a backup of patient records. IT security expert Ty Miller warned cyber extortion is on the rise, with hackers accessing systems via weaknesses in installed programs such as Flash and Adobe Reader.
Mr Phair says the hackers are not easy to trace and international police investigations are difficult, reducing the chance of retrieving information without paying a ransom.