Hackers call Virginia dental practice demanding ransom, post files on dark web

Chester, Va.-based Galstan & Ward Family and Cosmetic Dentistry notified its patients that their information may have been exposed during a hacking incident earlier in the year.

In a Nov. 13 letter to patients, Galstan & Ward said it received a call Sept. 9 from a group demanding ransom be paid, saying it had infected the practice's computer server with a virus. Before receiving the call, the practice had identified abnormalities within its system and got it wiped by an outside IT vendor, which also reinstalled patient data from a backup.

Galstan & Ward said it neither paid any ransom nor experienced data loss or a significant service disruption. It said the hacking incident occurred between Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.

The practice discovered Sept. 11 that several files from its server had been posted to a website on the dark web, but the files did not contain any patient information. Galstan & Ward sought services from a security firm, which confirmed the restored server did not contain any malware. The firm also could not find any evidence that confidential patient data has been acquired or accessed.

Galstan & Ward told patients it was only notifying them of the potential data breach out of an abundance of caution. The practice said its software used a cryptographic technology to protect patient data and it has implemented additional safeguard to improve cybersecurity.

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