An office assistant searches for a patient's misplaced medical file at a family clinic amid a transition to an electronic health records system. Handling of patient data remains under a microscope after the digital extortion attack disclosed by a Finnish psychotherapy center. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The data breach and digital extortion attack disclosed by Finnish psychotherapy center Vastaamo last month represents a significant escalation in tactics : culprits used stolen data to blackmail not only the facility but also its patients.

Organizations in the health care sector and beyond should be aware of potential copycat attacks, which could result in significant damage to both reputation and bottom line. While this isolated incident alone isn’t expected to damage the mental health profession as a whole, confidence in the industry’s ability to protect private data could fall if additional attacks follow.

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