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A data breach is always a shock, but help is available

The hacking of Vastaamo’s psychotherapy records, the leaking of customers’ personal information and the blackmail messages sent to the victims are extremely serious criminal offences. They shake us to our core and cause unimaginable pain to the victims, their families and society as a whole.

This data breach is especially hurtful because the hacked records contain not just basic personal data but also sensitive information about the customers’ private lives. Not knowing where the information might end up and what damage could be done with it can lead to more anxiety, frustration and anger.

The situation may feel out of control, but it is not hopeless. There is no need to panic. You can regain control by taking certain precautions, starting with our tips on what to do if your personal data has been leaked online.

Our advice is designed to save you from further harm. Make a list of what you have already done to protect your personal data and what you still need to do. You can also ask Vastaamo to send you copies of all the records they have about you in their information system and make an assessment of just how serious an issue the breach is from your personal perspective. Take your time reading through our tips and also visit the links to our partners’ websites. They contain valuable information that can help you in the future.

Once you have taken the steps to protect your data, it is time to focus on feeling good about yourself again. Try not to think about the situation too much and focus instead on everyday things. That is all you can do for now. Remember that you are not alone and that help is available!

Talking about the situation with your family and friends or to a professional can be helpful. Although the data breach may have eroded your trust in professional help, talking about the situation is important. Many helplines are also anonymous. Try to identify the worst thing that could happen to you as a result of the breach and how you would cope with that scenario.

You might be worried about who could read your private patient records if they were published. In reality, however, your records are unlikely to interest most people, and many have already said on social media that they respect the victims’ privacy and will refrain from reading or sharing patient records. There is also nothing shameful about seeing a therapist. On the contrary – seeking help when you need it is the responsible and brave thing to do!

What to do if your personal data has been leaked online