UPDATE 3-Australia pathology data stolen as hacking epidemic widens

(Writing, adding parts)

Byron Kaye

SYDNEY, Oct 27 (Reuters) – One of Australia’s biggest pathology providers says hackers have stolen the medical data of thousands of patients, the second such breach in the country. in two weeks, raising fears about how sensitive customer information is being collected.

Thursday’s release sent shares in Australian Clinical Labs Ltd to their lowest level since listing last year, and extended a wave of regulation that has rocked the country’s biggest companies. the country. A day earlier, health insurer No. 1 Medibank Private Ltd that criminals have taken data on 4 million of its customers.[[[[

ACL said it first became aware of the unauthorized access to the IT system of its pathology group, Medlab, in February and was advised that no information had been compromised. The government’s cybersecurity agency announced in June that their data had been published on the dark web, a web system accessible only to certain browsers.

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The company said it then hired forensic analysts to study the “complicated and unstructured” data found there, learning that 223,000 patient records, including medical and health records for about 18,000 people.

There was no ransom demand or evidence of data misuse, but “we are aware of the concerns and inconvenience this incident may cause to those who have used Medlab’s services and have taken steps to identify those affected” , said ACL chief executive Melinda McGrath in a statement.

Private equity firm Crescent Capital, which listed ACL in 2021 and holds 23% of its shares, declined to comment. Crescent sold 14.3% of the company in August, the stock market showed.

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In addition to healthcare providers, companies in Australia have been bracing since September 22, when the country’s second largest telco, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, Optus, announced a breach of up to 10 million customer accounts. equal to 40% of the country’s population.

No. 1 grocery chain Woolworths Group Ltd then announced that the data of millions of customers using its well-known shopping website had been breached. A number of small and unlisted companies have also filed breach notices, prompting lawyers to question how much data private companies can collect, and for how long.

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“When it’s your health information, it’s a very different, more serious and more impactful data breach, which is why the law recognizes that you should be doing more,” said Alec Christie, partner at the law firm Clyde & Co who specialize in in cybersecurity and privacy.

Australia has said it plans to fine companies up to A$50 million ($32 million) for failing to prevent data breaches, but Christie said the damage caused by data theft medical is usually higher than other personal data due to non-economic damage such as mental. health effects.

($1 = 1.5430 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi; Writing by Anil D’Silva, Devika Syamnath and Gerry Doyle)


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