Members of the U.S. Olympic team, including star gymnast Simone Biles and tennis greats Venus and Serena Williams, are the latest victims of one of the fastest growing cyber-security threats: Medical data theft.
The World Anti-Doping Agency confirmed Tuesday that Russian hackers gained access to its Rio 2016 database and published confidential medical information on several athletes. Some analysts are speculating that the hack may be revenge for WADA’s recent reports about state-sponsored drug use on the Russian Olympic team.
The group -- known as Fancy Bears and thought to be behind the Democratic National Committee hacks -- posted records about several athletes who had received a “therapeutic use exemption” for drugs prescribed by their doctors.
“I have ADHD and I have taken medicine for it since I was a kid,” Biles tweeted. “Please know, I believe in clean sport, I have always followed the rules, and will continue to do so as fair play is critical to sport and is very important to me.” USA Gymnastics confirmed that Biles had received the necessary clearance for her prescription.
The International Tennis Federation confirmed to ESPN that Venus and Serena Williams had both received exemptions for prescriptions at certain times from 2010 through 2015.
While much of the concern about medical ID theft has been about the implications for consumers’ medical care and financial security, this hack shows the damage that criminals could do to a person’s reputation or employment by accessing private information about medical history and treatment.