Prosecutors in Finland this week commenced their legal trial in opposition to Julius Kivimäki, a 26-year-old Finnish man charged with extorting a as soon as fashionable and now-bankrupt on-line psychotherapy observe and hundreds of its sufferers. In a 2,200-page report, Finnish authorities laid out how they related the extortion spree to Kivimäki, a infamous hacker who was convicted in 2015 of perpetrating tens of hundreds of cybercrimes, together with knowledge breaches, fee fraud, working a botnet and calling in bomb threats.
In November 2022, Kivimäki was charged with making an attempt to extort cash from the Vastaamo Psychotherapy Heart. In that breach, which occurred in October 2020, a hacker utilizing the deal with “Ransom Man” threatened to publish affected person psychotherapy notes if Vastaamo didn’t pay a six-figure ransom demand.
Vastaamo refused, so Ransom Man shifted to extorting particular person sufferers — sending them focused emails threatening to publish their remedy notes except paid a 500-euro ransom. When Ransom Man discovered little success extorting sufferers straight, they uploaded to the darkish internet a big compressed file containing the entire stolen Vastaamo affected person information.
Safety consultants quickly found Ransom Man had mistakenly included a whole copy of their house folder, the place investigators discovered many clues pointing to Kivimäki’s involvement. By that point, Kivimäki was now not in Finland, however the Finnish authorities however charged Kivimäki in absentia with the Vastaamo hack. The two,200-page proof doc in opposition to Kivimäki suggests he loved a lavish way of life whereas on the lam, frequenting luxurious resorts and renting fabulously costly vehicles and dwelling quarters.
However in February 2023, Kivimäki was arrested in France after authorities there responded to a home disturbance name and located the defendant sleeping off a hangover on the sofa of a lady he’d met the evening earlier than. The French police grew suspicious when the 6′ 3″ blonde, green-eyed man introduced an ID that acknowledged he was of Romanian nationality.
Finnish prosecutors confirmed that Kivimäki’s bank card had been used to pay for the digital server that hosted the stolen Vastaamo affected person notes. What’s extra, the house folder included within the Vastaamo affected person knowledge archive additionally allowed investigators to see into different cybercrime initiatives of the accused, together with domains that Ransom Man had entry to in addition to a prolonged historical past of instructions he’d executed on the rented digital server.
A few of these domains allegedly administered by Kivimäki have been set as much as smear the reputations of various firms and people. A type of was a web site that claimed to have been authored by an individual who headed up IT infrastructure for a significant financial institution in Norway which mentioned the concept of legalizing youngster sexual abuse.
One other area hosted a faux weblog that besmirched the repute of a Tulsa, Okla. man whose identify was hooked up to weblog posts about supporting the “white delight” motion and calling for a pardon of the Oklahoma Metropolis bomber Timothy McVeigh.
Kivimäki seems to have sought to sully the identify of this reporter as effectively. The two,200-page doc exhibits that Kivimäki owned and operated the area krebsonsecurity[.]org, which hosted varied hacking instruments that Kivimäki allegedly used, together with packages for mass-scanning the Web for methods susceptible to recognized safety flaws, in addition to scripts for cracking database server usernames and passwords, and downloading databases.
Mikko Hyppönen, chief analysis officer at WithSecure (previously F-Safe), mentioned the Finnish authorities have completed “superb work,” and that “it’s uncommon to have this a lot proof for a cybercrime case.”
Petteri Järvinen is a revered IT skilled and writer who has been following the trial, and he mentioned the prosecution’s case to this point has been sturdy.
“The Nationwide Bureau of Investigation has completed job and Mr Kivimäki for his half some elementary errors,” Järvinen wrote on LinkedIn. “This sends an necessary message: on-line crime doesn’t pay. Traces are left within the digital world too, even when it is vitally tedious for the police to gather them from servers all all over the world.”
Antti Kurittu is an data safety specialist and a former legal investigator. In 2013, Kurittu labored on an investigation involving Kivimäki’s use of the Zbot botnet, amongst different actions Kivimäki engaged in as a member of the hacker group Hack the Planet (HTP). Kurittu mentioned it stays to be seen if the prosecution could make their case, and if the protection has any solutions to the entire proof introduced.
“Based mostly on the general public pretrial investigation report, it seems just like the case has lots of particulars that appear very inconceivable to be coincidental,” Kurittu informed KrebsOnSecurity. “For instance, a full copy of the Vastaamo affected person database was discovered on a server that belonged to Scanifi, an organization with no affordable enterprise that Kivimäki was affiliated with. The leaked house folder contents have been additionally related to Kivimäki and have been discovered on servers that have been below his management.”
The Finnish each day yle.fi stories that Kivimäki’s legal professionals sought to have their shopper launched from confinement for the rest of his trial, noting that the defendant has already been detained for eight months.
The courtroom denied that request, saying the defendant was nonetheless a flight threat. Kivimäki’s trial is predicted to proceed till February 2024, partially to accommodate testimony from numerous victims. Prosecutors are looking for a seven-year sentence for Kivimäki.