Investigation into computer break-in to continue – think carefully before sharing any information

Publication date 30.10.2020 15.34 | Published in English on 24.11.2020 at 11.40

The police continue the criminal investigation of the suspected aggravated computer break-in, aggravated extortion and aggravated dissemination of information violating personal privacy related to Psychotherapy Centre Vastaamo. Progress has been made in the investigation, but only very little information can be provided at this stage

– We will provide as much as information as we can, but there is a risk that the offender or offenders might make use of the information about the investigation, such as avenues of investigation, investigative measures or other actions taken. This is not what we want, because our absolute priority at the moment is to catch the pertpetrators and prevent any harm that may be caused to the victims by the dissemination of the information, for example, says Head of Investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Marko Leponen of the National Bureau of Investigation.

The criminal investigation has been underway since Vastaamo submitted a request for investigation to the police on 29 September concerning an alleged computer break-in and extortion threatening to publish the compromised customer information. At the end of October, some information was shared on the Tor network, and the victims received personal ransom messages.

The police have not yet established with certainty whether one and the same person is responsible for the actual hacking and the extortion of Vastaamo and individual victims.

Thus far, the police have received around 15,000 reports of offences in the case. The reports concern alleged instances of sharing personal data on the internet, and extortion threatening to publish the compromised information. The police advise the victims to make a report of an offence by carefully following the instructions given by the police. These instructions can be found here.

– I would like to point out, however, that the victims' reports are not crucial to the investigation at this stage, but we will come back to them later. This equally applies to all victims in the case, so contacting the police at this point does not further the processing of individual cases, says Marko Leponen.

Sharing tip-offs in public can make the investigation more difficult

The police have received numerous tip-offs from internet users and urge people to continue to be alert. To submit tip-offs, go to:

– We have expressed our thanks to eye witnesses in the cyber world for actively informing the police of their findings, and we greatly appreciate their contribution. The hacker community, among others, has done an excellent job in providing the authorities with information, while keeping a low profile. This is crucial, because sharing detailed information in public can seriously endanger the criminal investigation, Leponen points out.

– We can see very well why people want to act. This is indeed an exceptional crime that makes people upset and causes human distress. But we wish that we can do our work without any public speculations about the perpetrator or any online campaigns or other actions hampering the investigation. Even well-intentioned public campaigns or other actions can prevent us from catching the perpetrator or obtaining sufficient evidence. The offenders may only be brought to justice by the police, and we will make every effort to ensure that this happens, Leponen continues. The police also remind that the end does not justify the means in this case: it is not allowed to break the law, and the police would not even be allowed to use illegally obtained information.

Information will be provided about the criminal investigation whenever possible.

– Even if we were not able to constantly update the situation, this does not mean that we would not be fully engaged in our work. We understand the social importance of this case and will be as open as possible without endangering the criminal investigation, says Leponen.

Shared website of organisations and public authorities providing help to the victims:

Previous press releases (in Finnish) on the case issued by the National Bureau of Investigation:

News Offences and criminal investigation The National Bureau of Investigation