In this age of electronic wonder, it was only a matter of time before kidnappers figured out a way to execute their crimes in cyberspace. Now it seems that the giant pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts along with millions of its customers have become the first victims of a virtual-hostage scheme.
The St. Louis-based PBM disclosed this month that blackmailers had sent a letter demanding the company pay an unspecified amount in order to keep the medical records of millions of its customers from being divulged to the world.
The unidentified extortionist bolstered the threat by including names, birthdates, Social Security numbers and prescription information for some of the unfortunate customers.
So far, Express Scripts is calling the bluff of its nemesis. The company said it wont pay diddly to the cyber-napper and has hired a team of security experts to investigate the information technology breach. The PBM has also brought in the FBI to investigate. Those moves, unfortunately, dont appear to have scared off the perpetrator, who followed up by sending similar ransom demands to several Express Scripts clients. The company countered by offering a $1 million reward for anyone with information leading to an arrest and conviction of whoever is behind the scheme.
George Paz, Express Scripts chairman and chief executive officer, says in a written statement the company takes privacy matters seriously. However, as security experts know, no data system is completely invulnerable.