A group of hackers have targeted a London-based cosmetic surgery clinic associated with celebrity clients, such as model Katie Price.
Calling themselves The Dark Overlord, the cyber criminals have stolen customer data from the clinic and are threatening to release a range of intimate photos stored by the clinic.
The London Bridge Plastic Surgery clinic, which caters for a range of famous and not-so-famous customers, confirmed the attack this morning.
According to Scotland Yard, a team of detectives are already investigating the attack, but no arrests have been made.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the clinic confirmed the attack and that it is in the process of implementing measures to protect patient information.
"We took measures to block the attack immediately in order to protect patient information and we informed the Metropolitan Police, who launched an investigation," they said.
There are some royal families in here. We're going to pitch it all up for everyone to nab - the entire patient list, with corresponding photos.
"Regrettably, following investigations by our IT experts and the police, we believe that our security was breached and that data has been stolen. We are still working to establish exactly what data has been compromised.
"The group behind the attack are highly sophisticated and well known to international law enforcement agencies having targeted large US medical providers and corporations over the past year.
The spokesperson added: "Security and patient confidentiality has always been of the utmost importance to us. We invest in market-leading technology to keep our data secure and our systems are updated daily. We are deeply saddened that our security has been breached.
"We are profoundly sorry for any distress this data breach may cause our patients and our team are available around the clock to speak to anyone who has any concerns by calling 0203 858 0664."
The hackers contacted online magazine The Daily Beast, saying that they have several terabytes of data on the clinic's customers. They threatened to release more data unless an undisclosed ransom is paid.
"There are some royal families in here," the hackers said. "We're going to pitch it all up for everyone to nab - the entire patient list, with corresponding photos. The world has never seen a medical dump of a plastic surgeon to such a degree.
Sarah Armstrong-Smith, head continuity and resilience at systems and services vendor Fujitsu UK & Ireland, warned that health institutions are increasingly falling victim to cyber attacks.
"With the latest attack on popular cosmetic surgery clinic in London still fresh, we are seeing more and more how cyber-attacks pose a critical threat to businesses in the UK," she said.
"With this in mind, it was worrying to see our recent digital PACT survey find eight-in-10 businesses point to digital skills as the biggest hindrance to their cyber security function.
"A reluctance in upskilling staff is often an attitudinal issue, with many organisations not necessarily considering themselves as ‘high value targets' for attackers.
She added that firms aren't taking cyber security seriously enough. "What this means is they often have very minimal protection and investment in cyber security defences or staff training and awareness.
"It's time that businesses recognise that cyber security is more than a technology issue - it's a ‘people' issue.
"After all, there is a general lack of enforcement relating to IT and security related policies, with an assumption that users are actively following policies or have understood the ramifications for failure to follow the policies as prescribed."
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