Healthcare Information Security

Latest Health Data Breaches News

Ransomware Attack May Affect 10K Plastic Surgery Patients

Recent potential healthcare data breaches include two ransomware attacks and an email hack.

Health Data Breaches

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- On February 12, 2017, Plastic Surgery Associates of South Dakota discovered its health IT systems had experienced a ransomware attack.

The healthcare organization immediately attempted to remove the ransomware from the infected servers and decrypt stored health data, it said in an online statement. The organization also hired third-party experts to investigate the incident and determine what data may have been affected in the incident.

Investigators found hackers had not gained access to the majority of Plastic Surgeon Associate’s patient health records. However, investigators stated it is possible some patient records were subject to unauthorized access.

The incident may have affected up to 10,200 individuals, according to a report in Argus Leader.

Potentially affected patient information may have included patient names, Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card information, medical conditions, diagnoses information, lab results, dates of birth, and health insurance information.

While investigators stated it is possible some patient information was accessed in the incident, there exists no evidence suggesting the information was misused in any way.

Plastic Surgery Associates notified all potentially impacted patients of the breach and is working to implement additional security measures to avoid similar incidents in the future. Additionally, the organization has reported the incident to HHS.

Plastic Surgery Associates set up a dedicated call center to answer any questions concerned patients may have.

The organization is also offering free credit monitoring services to all potentially impacted patients.

New York healthcare organization suffers email hack impacting 2.7K

Kaleida Health in Western New York recently learned of a potential data breach in which an unauthorized third party may have accessed a Kaleida Health employee’s email account.

The healthcare organization discovered the incident on May 24, 2017 and immediately hired a computer forensics firm to launch an investigation into the incident.

Through the investigation, Kaleida Health officials were able to determine an unauthorized third party may have gained access to a number of Kaleida Health email accounts containing patient information such as names, medical record numbers, dates of birth, diagnoses, treatment information, and other clinical information.

Officials stated Social Security numbers and financial information were not contained in the email accounts.

The OCR data breach reporting tool states that 2,789 individuals may have been impacted by the breach.

Presently, Kaleida Health stated there is no indication any patient information has been used inappropriately.

However, the institution mailed data breach notifications to all potentially impacted. The organization also set up a call center to answer any further questions regarding the incident.

Rheumatology organization suffers ransomware attack

Northwest Rheumatology (NW Rheumatology) suffered a ransomware attack on April 10, 2017 that left a portion of its computer system encrypted and inaccessible.

The health organization called its computer security vendor for assistance and initiated an investigation into the incident. According to the investigation, no patient PHI had been accessed or acquired.

NW Rheumatology officials stated the investigator’s report showed the ransomware attack did not impact any patient information.

However, the organization found further evidence on June 18, 2017 that unauthorized computer access took place during the initial ransomware attack. NW Rheumatology enlisted the help of a third-party forensic firm to investigate the incident.

The forensic team confirmed an unauthorized party had accessed the health organization’s system but was not able to determine if any patient PHI had been accessed or viewed.

NW Rheumatology issued advisory notices to all potentially impacted patients. Additionally, the organization is offering to provide free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services to all patients that may have been affected.

“NW Rheumatology has taken steps to enhance the security of its systems, and continues to actively work with its computer security vendor to ensure that all information maintained by NW Rheumatology is kept secure,” the organization said in its statement.

The organization also established a call center to address any additional questions concerned patients may have regarding the incident.

NW Rheumatology has not specified how many patients may have been affected by the breach. 

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