Nov 022018

I thought I posted something on this already, but apparently I didn’t, so if you hadn’t heard already, an Australian shipbuilder who also has contracts with the U.S. Navy was hacked and the hacker made extortion demands that the firm has refused.

Jeremy Kirk reports:

Australia’s largest defense exporter says it hasn’t responded to an extortion attempt after ship design schematics were stolen by a hacker.

Austal, which is based in Henderson, Western Australia, is one of the country’s largest shipbuilders; it has built vessels for the U.S. Navy.

The company, which is listed on Australia’s ASX stock exchange, announced the breach late Thursday. The announcement came just a day after a security researcher in France posted screenshots on Twitter of the purported stolen data.

Austal says the material is neither sensitive nor classified and that it has taken steps to secure its data systems.

Read more on GovInfoSecurity.

Here is some of what appeared on Twitter a few days ago:

Is TheDarkOverlord Behind This?

Because of the nature of the crime – a hack and extortion attempt – some people have wondered whether this might be the work of TheDarkOverlord. ¬†The question is understandable, particularly since I reported almost exactly one year ago had TDO had attacked ¬†U.S. Navy defense contractors, including ATS, whose METBENCH software was used on warships. Now another firm that does defense work for the U.S. Navy was attacked? It’s understandable that people would wonder, except if you look at the listings posted on Twitter, those listings are not consistent with TDO’s sales listings, although the April, 2016 join date is intriguing. But selling such important material for 1 BTC? ¬†Would TDO sell for so little? It’s unlikely, but it would be a good way to put pressure on Austal – offer the data so cheaply that lots of people might buy it.

When asked directly whether they were behind the attack and extortion, a TDO spokesperson declined to confirm or deny. But they were willing to make a statement about attacking defense contractors, telling in an e-mailed statement:

U.S. Defence contractors are easy pickings and they always house very juicy materials that competing nation-states are very interested in. At some times they can be a tough nut to crack, but given enough time, we always crack the nut. Naval contractors are among the most important contractors to breach as surface and sub-surface warfare vessels allow nation-states to extend their attack capabilities in a very mobile and speedy way.

Sep 182018

Amy L. Hanna Keeney of Adams and Reese writes about an opinion in a court case that stemmed from one of TheDarkOverlord’s hacks: their attack on Athens Orthopedic Clinic (AOC). I had covered that breach extensively, including commenting on the fact that AOC did not offer any free services to patients whose data had not only been stolen, but had either been publicly dumped on Pastebin and/or reportedly put up for sale on dark net markets.

As Keeney explains in her article, only one of three named plaintiffs in Collins, et al. v. Athens Orthopedic Clinic¬†actually alleged that they had actually experienced fraudulent charges on any of their accounts, and the complaint didn’t actually claim that the fraud had a causal connection to the hack. Basically, the plaintiffs were alleging that they incurred the cost of identity theft protection, credit monitoring, and credit freezes.

Together, the plaintiffs filed a putative class action alleging (1) violation of the Georgia Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act by AOC; (2) breach of an implied contract with AOC; (3) unjust enrichment of AOC; and (4) negligence by AOC.

AOC responded to plaintiffs’ complaint by filing a motion to dismiss pursuant to both O.C.G.A. §§ 9-11-12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).

Disappointingly to privacy advocates, the court held that just an increased risk of harm was not sufficient to grant the plaintiffs standing.

The court explained, ‚Äú[w]hile credit monitoring and other precautionary measures are undoubtedly prudent, we find that they are not recoverable damages on the facts before us, because the plaintiffs seek only to recover for an increased risk of harm.‚ÄĚ

The trial court’s dismissal of plaintiffs’ complaint was affirmed.

That conclusion seems straightforward, right? Not quite. There are two aspects of the Collins opinion that either diminish its usefulness or give you hope, depending on which side of this battle you favor.

Read more on Daily Report.

From my perspective, the decision is an unfortunate one that once again fails to appreciate the harm and costs patients and consumers incur from a breach.

Jun 022018

After his victim allegedly didn’t respond to his repeated demands for a “security fee,” ¬†a hacker accuses the victim of covering up a hack for almost two years.¬†

One of the breaches added to HHS’s public breach tool this past week is a breach reported by Holland Eye Surgery and Laser Center in Michigan. The incident is noted on HHS’s breach tool as a hack affecting 42,200 patients. ¬†But according to the self-identified hacker, there’s more to this story than the covered entity has disclosed.

In early April, was contacted by a hacker who had contacted this site in the past about a hack of a dental practice. He is known to this site as “Lifelock,” and signs his communications as “Todd Davis,” ¬†aka “Lifelock.” After his first contact with this site in the Yaley case, did find him on some dark web markets as Lifelock, selling identity information and “fullz.”

According to Lifelock’s statement to this site: in June, 2016, he hacked Holland Eye Surgery & Laser Center in Holland, Michigan. He then reportedly contacted them and demanded a “security fee” of $10,000.00 for helping them secure their patient data. As he related it to this site:

I invoiced them a fee of 10000 USD a fair payment for my time and to help them secure their data. They turned off access immediately to the RDP server so I know they received communications from me. Over the course of weeks I requested them to pay my invoice to secure their patient data. They never once acknowledged me. But I am very persistent and communicate with staff members, faxes and all means where i can verify delivery. These pricks want to cover up the incident.

When the doctors didn’t pay his “security fee,” he claims he followed through on a threat he had made: ¬†he began selling small amounts of their patients’ data on the dark web – first on AlphaBay, and then later on, on TradeRoute. He claims that each time he did, he informed or taunted the doctors that he was selling their patients’ information.

According to his statements to this site, Lifelock sold more than 200 patients’ information, but still,

the practice did not inform Michigan or HHS authorities that the data had been breached. Their patients had no fair warning that the data had been breached. I setup banks for dirty money transfers in these peoples names, my buyers used them for identity protection for when arrested, and to make cell phone accounts to purchase 5 iphones at a time from Verizon, ATT et al.

I have contacted the practice at least 30 times over the past 2 years to do the right thing for their patients.

As part of the proof he provided to this site, Lifelock included two databases: one called patients.csv, with 202,163 records and one called person.csv, with 42,229 records. ¬†The files are date-stamped June 26, 2016. Holland Eye’s report to HHS seems to correspond to the number of patients in the person.csv file, but it is not clear what happened to all the people who had data in the patients.csv file. That database has names, addresses, insurance information, and some other fields. sent an inquiry to Holland Eye’s external counsel asking for an explanation on that point, but did not receive an immediate response. This post will be updated if an explanation is received. UPDATE of June 4: Lawyers for Holland Eye responded to this site’s inquiry: “We investigated the patients.csv file you have a copy of and determined that there is not anyone in it who was not also in the person.csv file. The patients.csv file merely has more than one line item for many individual patients. In short, these people were included in the report to HHS.” ¬† appreciates their clarification.

In any event, according to Lifelock, in March of this year, Lifelock contacted the doctors yet again, and also contacted the mayor of Holland, Michigan, Nancy De Boer. Shortly after those unsuccessful attempts, he contacted, claiming that his goal was now to get the patients notified and the doctors exposed and shamed for allegedly covering up the breach:

Please find a way to let the people of Holland know that they have been breached and that the people who swore a hippocratic oath to do no harm, have done them immense harm. Further that the people who are supposed to be in charge do not have their best interests in mind and would rather suckle the cocks of the rich Dutchmen rather than inform the common rabble of their plight.

The reference to “people in charge” appears to be a response to his attempt to get a response from Mayor De Boer. According to Lifelock, when he contacted her in March:

She did not respond¬†until I opened multiple lines of credit in her name, utility accounts, EIN’s, etc… She did¬†respond, and appeared to take the breach seriously, but her motive was to find my identity rather¬†than help the people of her town. She used a silly technique of embedding a tracking image to try¬†and find me.

On May 16, after confirming that the breach had never been reported to HHS or the state of Michigan, sent Holland Eye Surgery a detailed message about the hacker’s claims with a request for a response.

On May 18, two days later and almost 60 days after they claimed to have first learned of the breach, the practice issued a media notice in the Holland Sentinel.

In that notice, they claim that they first learned of the breach on March 19, 2018 when they were contacted by someone claiming to be a pentester who informed them that he had their patients’ data and had sold some of it.

External counsel for the doctors later confirmed to that the “pentester” signed his communication in March as “Todd Davis.”

Notice of May 18 in Holland Sentinel. Courtesy of Holland Sentinel.

According to their media notice, then, although the practice appears to acknowledge that they had been hacked in 2016 and that the hacker was in possession of their patient data, they claim that the hacker “concealed the extent of his or her access until the recent email communications in March 2018.” ¬†That, of course, is disputed by Lifelock’s claims, but this site has no proof of his claims as to any contacts prior to March, 2018. When asked for proof of any early emails, Lifelock had replied:

Unfortunately my original communications to HE have been deleted when went down. I normally delete communications frequently as I am not wanting to have excess evidence should Europol\RCMP\ICR\Scotland Yard et al kick in my door one day. My normal intent is not journalism unfortunately. I will look to see if I can find old email addresses I used and see if there is any evidence. Some email addresses as you can imagine get eliminated for TOS abuses. Sadly Gmail doesn’t like its services to be used for extortion schemes.

Lifelock never provided any additional evidence after that communication. That said, the doctors’ version makes little sense to this blogger, while Lifelock’s version does make sense.

Why would a hacker hack them in June, 2016 and then wait almost two years to first contact them with a (“security fee”) demand? Lifelock’s claims that he hacked them, promptly tried to extort them for a “security fee,” and then upped the pressure on them (or tried to) by selling patient data and letting them know that he was doing that makes a lot more sense, and we’ve certainly seen that scenario before. ¬†TheDarkOverlord (TDO) frequently used such methods – releasing small amounts of patient information or claiming to have sold it – to increase pressure on their victims.

So… is this site being gamed by Lifelock to seek revenge on a reluctant victim or to send a message to other victims to pay up or face public exposure? Perhaps, but if his claims are true, then the doctors covered up a breach for almost two years and knowingly left their patients at risk. ¬†But are his claims true? This site has no evidence or confirmation of the crucial claim that Holland Eye first became aware that they had been breached in June, 2016. Perhaps that is something that OCR should investigate. contacted the Holland Police with a freedom of information request for the police report and any associated records, but has received no response as yet. ¬†This site also contacted Mayor Nancy De Boer’s office to request a statement, but did not get any response.

Holland Eye’s media notice makes clear that they have contacted patients whose Social Security number was involved and offered them credit monitoring services. They have provided all patients with advice on how to protect themselves and to check their statements for signs of information misuse. And as noted at the outset of this report, they have notified HHS.

This post will be updated if more information becomes available.

May 182018

Over the past few days, I’ve been asked by many people what I think about reports that Serbian police arrested a member of TheDarkOverlord. Some journalists seem to be going even further and reporting that multiple arrests have been made.

I’ve said repeatedly and will repeat it here: I don’t know who did get arrested, but I do not believe reports and rumors by others suggesting that all operators have been arrested. ¬†And there is no way I will believe that Grant West (“Courvoisier”) was/is any core part of TDO (or any part at all, for that matter) unless I see a lot of proof. ¬†The idea of TDO putting a red laptop on a shelf in a train? Absurd. TDO spending a ton of money on a Las Vegas trip? Equally absurd, I think. Yes, Nathan Wyatt (“Crafty Cockney”) was affiliated with them, but I knew what he did for them and reported on him in the past.

So who was arrested in Serbia, and what, if anything, was/is his connection to TheDarkOverlord? Why hasn’t the FBI issued a press release?

But here’s the thing that makes me wonder whether they have been compromised: I do not know why TDO would email Joe Cox and Jeremy Kirk that they’re still standing but never get in touch with this site. Have they lost control of the account they used to contact this site? Or are they impostors who are afraid I would spot them as impostors? Could law enforcement be tweeting and sending their recent tweets and emails?

The writing of the tweets certainly looks like TDO’s, but it would be nice to see TDO actually authenticate themselves to me. There are non-public facts they should know that they can use to authenticate themselves if they want to. If they don’t want to, that’s their right, of course, but it’s puzzling that they wouldn’t contact this site, when it’s been this site that has published ¬† ¬†proof when they wanted proof published.

May 162018

There are reports in the news this morning that a member of TheDarkOverlord has been arrested by Serbian police. These are translations via Google, and I do not see any report yet naming the arrestee or a photo, but…

Serbian police arrested SS (1980) from Belgrade suspected of being one of the hackers from the group “The Dark Overlord”. The group is suspected of stealing personal information from US citizens and then blackmailing them.


Another source (translation):

Members of the MUP have identified and detained SS (38) from Belgrade, suspected of being one of the members of the hacking group “The Dark Overlord”.

The search of the apartment and other premises suspected to use has been found and seized digital equipment.


Note:  The European convention is to provide initials and age, so the arrestee in this case is S.S., born in 1980 (age 38).