The Dark Overlord group stole personal data — Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates and health insurance details — of 200,000 people from Athens Orthopedic Clinic in June 2016 then demanded a ransom to unlock the databases. The group posted some of the information on a data storage website, according to the high court’s opinion. The clinic declined to pay the ransom and notified patients in August 2016.
A member of The Dark Overlord group, 39-year-old Nathan Wyatt, this week was extradited from the United Kingdom to a St. Louis federal court amid allegations he helped hack American companies and then try to extort them using sensitive information in exchange for Bitcoin, a virtual form of currency. It isn't clear if Wyatt was involved in the Athens clinic hacking.
Three women claim the clinic was negligent and ask the clinic to pay their legal fees and compensate them for all the credit monitoring they put in place. One of the women, Christine Collins, said fraudulent charges were made to her credit card soon after the breach.
Neither attorneys for the clinic nor the potential plaintiffs responded to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s request for comment during this holiday week.
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Cyber crime affects organizations small and large, public and private.
A report obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News showed the March 2018 cyber attack that halted many city systems could cost taxpayers up to $17 million.
Atlanta-based Equifax earlier this year reached a $700 million settlement with the government over the 2017 breach that exposed the personal information of nearly 150 million people.
Justice Nels Peterson wrote in the Athens clinic opinion that the law is behind the prevalence of cyber crime and it may be up to another branch of government to fix.
“Traditional tort law is a rather blunt instrument for resolving all of the complex tradeoffs at issue in a case such as this,” Peterson wrote, “tradeoffs that may well be better resolved by the legislative process.”
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