Fraud Management & Cybercrime , Governance & Risk Management , Healthcare

LockBit Publishes Data Stolen in London Drugs Attack

Canadian Retail Pharmacy Chain Says It's Reviewing Exposed Data on Gang's Leak Site
LockBit Publishes Data Stolen in London Drugs Attack
Image: London Drugs

As promised, LockBit has begun to leak on its dark web site files of data the Russian-speaking cybercriminal gang claims to have stolen in an April attack on London Drugs. The group had threatened to publish the exfiltrated data if the Canadian retail pharmacy chain does not pay a $25 million ransom demand. by Thursday.

See Also: NHS Ransomware Attack: Healthcare Industry Infrastructures Are Critical

LockBit on its leak site Thursday afternoon posted several folders of data it claims to have taken from London Drugs. The largest file is 309.4 gigabytes (see: LockBit Demands $25M From Canadian Drug Store Chain).

The pharmacy chain in a statement to Information Security Media Group on Friday morning acknowledged the LockBit data leak.

"London Drugs has been named by cybercriminals as a victim of exfiltration of files from its corporate head office, and we are aware that some of these exfiltrated files have now been released," the statement said. "We want to reiterate that London Drugs is unwilling and unable to pay ransom to these cybercriminals."

London Drugs also acknowledged to ISMG that some of these files may contain some employee information. "This is deeply distressing and London Drugs is taking all available steps to mitigate any impacts from these criminal acts, including notifying all current employees whose personal information could be potentially impacted and providing them with complimentary credit monitoring services and identity theft protection."

"Our review of the files, which may have been exfiltrated during the attack, including those released, is underway. Once we have completed our review, pursuant to privacy laws, we will contact affected employees directly to inform them of what personal information of theirs was compromised, if any."

The pharmacy chain maintains that to date it still has no indication that the incident compromised patient or customer databases or its primary "employee-specific" databases. "Should this change as the investigation continues, we will notify affected individuals in accordance with privacy laws," London Drugs said.

Sources who reviewed samples of the leaked data said some of the files appear to contain information related to human resources as well as references to nursing home correspondence.

The April 28 attack on London Drugs forced the company to temporarily close its 79 pharmacy stores. While the company said all the locations have reopened, some stores have not yet restored full pharmacy services pending "final security checks."

Disturbing Trends

The attack on drug store chain London Drug is one of a rash of assaults by LockBit and other cybercriminal gangs on many different facets of the healthcare sector so far this year.

That includes the massively disruptive attack by BlackCat/Alphv in February on UnitedHealth Group's Change Healthcare IT products services business and the Black Basta attack earlier this month on hospital chain Ascension, which is still dealing with an outage of its electronic health records and many other clinical systems at many of its 140 hospitals in several states.

"Current strategies to combat the ransomware problem are very clearly not working and, until we implement new ones, incidents like the attacks on Ascension Health, Change Healthcare and London Drugs will invariably continue to happen," said Brett Callow, a threat analyst at security firm Emsisoft.

"That means more sensitive information will be compromised, more ambulances will be redirected, and more patients will not receive the quality of care that they normally would," he said.

Meanwhile, at least one of LockBit's recent healthcare victims is continuing in its own novel legal pursuit against the gang.

Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, a 115-bed, Ogdensburg, New York-based facility and its sister organizations, Carthage Area Hospital and North Country Orthopaedic Group, make up upstate New York-based North Star Health Alliance. LockBit hit the healthcare group with a ransomware encryption and exfiltration attack last summer.

Although the organization was able to restore its data from backups, LockBit stole North Star Health Alliance data, which the FBI later determined the cybercriminals transferred and stored on a server belonging to Boston-based cloud services firm Wasabi Technologies.

North Star Health Alliance took the unusual legal move last November of filing a lawsuit against anonymous "John Doe" and "Jane Doe" LockBit ransomware threat actors, despite realizing the cybercriminal group would likely never acknowledge or respond to the complaint (see: Hospitals Sue LockBit, Ask Cloud Firm to Return Stolen Data).

Nonetheless, North Star Health Alliance's litigation so far has achieved its main objective: It served as a legal maneuver to force Wasabi Technologies to return the hospital's stolen data.

Attorney David Hoffman, compliance counsel for North Star Health Alliance, told ISMG on Friday that since Wasabi returned North Star Health Alliance's stolen data, the organization's litigation against LockBit has not advanced much.

In February, after an international law enforcement operation infiltrated LockBit - resulting in arrests, indictments and the seizure of encryption keys - North Star Health Alliance and several other LockBit victims contacted the FBI for assistance and to obtain the group's decryptor keys.

"We are still waiting for word back on that," Hoffman said.

Security firm Rapid7 in a January report that was updated in April named LockBit 3.0 and Alphv/BlackCat among the five most-active ransomware groups across all sectors in 2023. Clop, Bian and Play are also on the list.

About the Author

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee

Executive Editor, HealthcareInfoSecurity, ISMG

McGee is executive editor of Information Security Media Group's media site. She has about 30 years of IT journalism experience, with a focus on healthcare information technology issues for more than 15 years. Before joining ISMG in 2012, she was a reporter at InformationWeek magazine and news site and played a lead role in the launch of InformationWeek's healthcare IT media site.

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