Australia Imposes Sanctions on Russian Citizen Over Medicare Hack

(Bloomberg) -- Australia imposed cybersecurity sanctions for the first time on a Russian hacker over his role in the breach of healthcare insurer Medibank Private Ltd. that exposed the sensitive private data of millions of Australians.

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Foreign Minister Penny Wong announced Tuesday that the government will use its cyber sanctions framework to target Aleksandr Ermakov, including imposing a travel ban and targeted financial bars.

The October 2022 Medibank hack was “an egregious violation that impacted some of the most vulnerable members of the Australian community,” Wong told reporters in Canberra. The move “sends a clear message that there are costs and consequences for targeting Australia and for targeting Australians.”

The hacking of Medibank Private led to the leaking of private health data from millions of Australians, including sensitive information such as terminated pregnancies and drug abuse. After hacker demands for a ransom were ignored, the data was subsequently published on the dark web.

Under the sanctions announced Tuesday, it will be a criminal offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison to provide assets to Ermakov.

The Australian government said Ermakov’s identity had been exposed through a joint operation between the Australian Signals Directorate, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, the US National Security Agency and the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters.

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