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November 7, 2022

Medibank says it will not pay ransom for stolen data of 9.7 million customers

Information from current and former customers has been compromised in the breach, the insurance company says.

By Claudia Glover

Australian health insurance provider Medibank says it will not be paying a ransom for a cyberattack the company suffered last month. Medibank has confirmed personal information belonging to 9.7 million current and former customers was compromised in the breach.

Medibank won't pay ransom
Medibank refuses to pay the ransom for data of 9.2 million customers. (Photo by Nils Versemann/Shutterstock)

An update released by the company today says it believes criminals have accessed the “name, date of birth, address, phone number and email address for around 9.7 million current and former customers and some of their authorised representatives”.

This figure represents around 5.1 million Medibank customers, around 2.8 million customers of ahm, another of the company’s insurance brands, and around 1.8 million international customers.

The data also includes Medicare numbers for ahm customers, passport numbers and visa details for international student customers. 

The company has yet to announce how the hackers infiltrated the system, but that update says that, given the nature of the crime, “unfortunately, we now believe that all of the customer data accessed could have been taken by the criminal”.

Medibank ransomware attack – paying won’t protect customers

A ransom demand has been issued, but Medibank says it will not pay. “We believe there is only a limited chance paying a ransom would ensure the return of our customers’ data and prevent it from being published,” today’s statement says. “In fact, paying could have the opposite effect and encourage the criminal to directly extort our customers, and there is a strong chance that paying puts more people in harm’s way by making Australia a bigger target.”

Indeed, Australian companies have been under the cybersecurity microscope in recent months following the Optus breach, which saw details of millions of the telecoms company’s customers compromised.

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Medibank first announced the data leak in October, explaining that it had been contacted by cybercriminals who claimed to have stolen 200GB of data. The company is providing support for affected customers, and is covering the cost of replacing identity documents, free identity monitoring services and specialist identity protection advice.

It has also deferred premium increases for Medibank and ahm customers until January.

Read more: Kingfisher Insurance suffers ransomware attack from LockBit 3.0

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