Archive for April, 2016

Truck and Data Breach

April 29th, 2016

A mail delivery truck which was having health information was stolen. This has resulted into a potential healthcare data breach for Kaiser Permanente, a healthcare system based in California. According to the reports, health information of approximately 2,400 individuals was affected . The truck was stolen from the parking lot.

The truck was not parked in a secure area even there are guidelines by Kaiser Permanente’s. Truck contained “Evidence of Coverage” handbooks for Kaiser Permanente patients who are on the Inland Empire Health Plan. Affected information included personal information, such as names, addresses, and an overview of plan benefits.

According to the reports, thieves gained entry to the vehicle. They drove to an unspecified location and left the empty truck behind.

After the incident, the healthcare facility reported the stolen vehicle to local law enforcement officials.Michelle Simms, a Kaiser Permanente spokeswoman, said the health care provider spoke to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s station in Santa Clarita. Truck was found with missing health records. Facility believes that there is no evidence of misuse of PHI information. Also, the file didn’t contain Social Security numbers, medical record numbers, descriptions of health services, health statuses, and financial information.

“We are in the process of notifying and apologizing to our members affected by this incident,” officials said in a statement. “We have investigated this matter and are taking appropriate steps to prevent similar errors in the future.”

With the rise in data breaches due to stolen records, it is better to go for digitization with proper safeguards. Some of the responsible health data handling includes –

  • Administrative safeguards includes policies and procedures to protect the privacy, and security of patients’ PHI
  • Physical safeguards includes measures to protect the hardware and the facilities
  • Technical safeguards includes health IT system to protect health information and to control access to it


Alertsec has created a web based encryption service that radically simplifies deployment and management of PC encryption by using industry leading Check Point Full Disk Encryption (former Pointsec) software

Phishing Scam and Data Breach

April 27th, 2016

Wyoming Medical Center recently suffered data breach when it was hit by phishing scam. According to the reports, 3,184 individuals received the notification letter by the medical center which mentioned that their PHI may have been accessed by an unauthorized user.

Facility explained the phishing email as,

“Phishing emails are email messages appearing to come from legitimate sources, such as a bank, a trusted friend or colleague, or trusted businesses, etc.  Phishing is an attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card information, email addresses, or Social Security Numbers.  Many times, it is difficult to identify phishing emails. “

Earlier in this February, the medical center found out that two email accounts were accessed by an outside entity.  Phishing email was sent to one of the employee and after opening it other employees also received emails. This unauthorized access lasted for around fifteen minutes.

Affected information included data related to hospital purchasing, wound care, and patients who were on isolation precaution. Also, PHI information was exposed which included names, medical record numbers, dates of hospital services, account numbers, dates of birth, and some medical information. Medical center mentioned that  EHR systems were not compromised.

Wyoming Medical Center has also reviewed its security policies. Facility also mentioned that there is limited scope of identity risk, “No, the information accessible by the unauthorized user was limited and did not include the proper information to allow for identity theft.  If you are concerned about potential identity theft, you may contact one of the credit reporting agencies that will place fraud protection on your credit report.  All you have to do is contact one of the three credit reporting agencies and ask them to put a fraud alert on your credit file, and they should automatically inform the other two credit agencies. “

Medical Center facility also mentioned that they take privacy very seriously by educating employees on privacy. It also has firewalls and necessary safeguards to avoid such incidents. It also performs routine audit to fine loopholes in the system. Also, information security firms are given contracts to monitor and audits systems routinely.


Alertsec is the full disk encryption service that delivers a mobile data protection system for all information stored on laptops used throughout your organization.

Stolen flash drive and data breach

April 25th, 2016

A dental clinic in Wisconsin recently suffered a healthcare data breach after theft incident. Flash drive containing patient information was stolen. According to the reports, flash drive stored dental information of patients.

Potentially exposed information included names, dental patient identification numbers, dates of visits, and dental insurance identification numbers. Financial information was not contained on the flash drive, confirmed Oneida Health Center. Flash drive was stolen from its office.

According to the statement,

“If affected individuals have broader concerns regarding their information, they may also contact one of the three major credit bureaus (below) to place a fraud alert on their credit report. Once one credit bureau confirms the fraud alert, the other two credit bureaus will automatically be notified to place alerts. “

Theft incident affected around 2,700 individuals. Onieda Health Center stated the scope of incident is limited. Also, there is no indications that the data was misused or inappropriately disclosed. Facility requested patients to notify their dental insurance companies and monitor for identity theft.

Local law enforcement is working to solve the case and notified all affected individuals of the security incident.

“To prevent a reoccurrence of this type of isolated internal incident, we are implementing the following measures: Reviewing and implementing administrative procedures regarding the use of flash drives and implementing appropriate technological safeguards concerning their security and storage,”

explained the press release.

According to the reports, personal identifying data, financial information, social security information, claims information, or any other diagnosis/ treatment information was not present on the stolen flash drive. Also, the information was related only to specific dental category and information from any other departments within the Oneida Health Center was not involved.


Alertsec is the full disk encryption service that delivers a mobile data protection system for all information stored on laptops used throughout your organization.

Hacking Incident and Data Breach

April 22nd, 2016

The Pain Treatment Centers of America (PTCOA) and Interventional Surgery Institute (ISI), a healthcare network in Arkansas suffered a potential data breach. The incident came to notice when  a vendor mentioned about hacking incident. According to OCR’s Tool, 19,397 individuals were possibly affected by the data security incident.

PTCOA and ISI mentioned that EHR and healthcare practice management tool operated by Bizmatics, a third-party vendor is used by them to manage patient files and contains the medical records of all its patients.

According to the PTCOA notice,“Your patient information is important to us, and we select vendors to help us better manage and secure that information. As such, security is the number one priority for our technology vendors, including Bizmatics.”

Unauthorized outside party accessed Bizmatics data server which stored customer records. Bizmatics collaborated with law enforcement officials and a cyber forensics firm to investigate the the incident. After the audit, Bizmatics mentioned the affected systems are secured.

“We have no reason to believe that our patient files were the target of the hackers’ attack on Bizmatics,” wrote PTCOA and ISI. “Due to the nature of the attack, Bizmatics cannot say for certain that PTCOA’s patient files were among the data that was accessed or acquired by the hacker.”

PTCOA also mentioned following in the statement,

“We are taking this issue seriously and have retained Experian, an industry leader in credit monitoring and identity theft recovery, to help patients monitor this situation in the coming months. We are offering a complimentary one-year membership of Experian’s® ProtectMyID® Alert. “

PTCOA advice following steps to the users –

  • Review your account statements and credit reports and notify law enforcement and us of suspicious activity
  • Consider placing a fraud alert or a security freeze on your credit files
  • Protect your Passwords
  • Fight “phishing” – don’t take the bait


Alertsec is the full disk encryption service that delivers a mobile data protection system for all information stored on laptops used throughout your organization.

Ransomware and Data Breach

April 21st, 2016

“Is ransomware considered a health data breach under HIPAA?”. The answer is explored in the recent issue of Forbes magazine by author Dan Munro. He researched healthcare and compliance domains.

According to the information presented, a ransomware attack should not be considered data breach as per PHI disclosure restrictions in HIPAA. It is more about the message of lax security that’s being broadcast to cyber-criminals around the world. But Dan believes otherwise.

Ransomware attacks should be considered as unauthorized exposures of private information. It is same as the outright theft of the laptop, desktop, or server breach.

Acccording to the records of Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in 2015, there were more than 300 disclosed healthcare breaches. One-third are due to the loss or theft of some piece of equipment like laptop, desktop, server, or other portable electronic device.

The report also states that more than 100 of the disclosed breaches were due to attack like ransomware. The breaches affected more than hundreds of thousands of records.  It is believed that the records under the hands of criminals can cause breach.

HIPAA rules states that the notification letters to be sent to affected individuals because the systems and the PHI are not under control of the healthcare provider.

Ransomware Attacks

Types of Ransomware –

Few attacks takes control of machine and lock it down. This action blocks the access to legitimate users. The system is unlocked only paying after ransom amount and clearly the system is under the control of criminals.

Few attacks involves remote access control by criminal. They awaits the Bitcoin payment to unlock and reconfigure the system.

Common form of ransomware includes a software which encrypts certain important files with certain password. The process includes accessing the files and encrypting and storing the files  in the same place. Once the payment is done, files are unlocked.

Now a days, ransomware attacks to extort money are on the rise.

There’s more and more documented evidence that this is going on,” says Ori Eisen, founder and chief innovation officer of fraud prevention company 41st Parameter. “It’s more prevalent in the United Kingdom, which is sort of a staging or testing ground. It’s starting there and getting more momentum.”


Alertsec is the full disk encryption service that delivers a mobile data protection system for all information stored on laptops used throughout your organization.

Cyberattacks remains major concern for healthcare industry

April 19th, 2016

According to the recent survey by Symantec Corporation on healthcare cybersecurity, cyberattacks were the top reason behind healthcare data breaches in 2015. Many healthcare facilities are now focusing more on cybersecurity. Ransomware and phishing scams are on the rise with increased threat to sensitive data.

“For the first time in 2015, criminal attacks are the number one cause of data breaches in the health sector,” stated the study. “Why? Because, the cyber-criminals have figured out that health data is deep and valuable, and that healthcare IT infrastructure, from traditional IT systems to connected medical devices, is typically vulnerable and easy to penetrate.”

In last decade the data breaches were mainly due to lost or stolen device but it is changing now. Cyberattacks are growing exponentially and soon it may take over other forms of data breaches.

EHR and other health IT systems mostly get shutdown due to cyberattack strongly affecting hospital routine work. Researchers of Symantec also connected the rise in cyber threats to the increase in innovative medical devices.

“Healthcare is a uniquely difficult environment to secure against cyber threats and often security measures conflict with care delivery,” wrote the authors of the report. “There are a lot of shared devices, many of which are critical to patient care. Routine security measures often don’t work in a clinical context.”

Healthcare industry should implement cybersecurity tools to protect from any such attacks. According to the surveys, healthcare sector suffers most under the hands of cyber criminals as compared to other industry because the it is highly regulated. There are stringent laws in case of healthcare data breach which tempts criminal to extort handsome money.

“Certainly, security technologies are available to protect organizations from these sophisticated attacks across multiple security control points―email, network, and endpoint―but the front line of defense is still the employee who receives the email and may be tempted to click on an infected web link,” stated the report. “Investment in contemporary security technology is important, but always needs to be complemented by training and drills for your workforce.”

Also, healthcare providers should be prepared for all types of attacks.

“Any breach, no matter how small, can provide valuable information to attackers as they accumulate details on healthcare organizations, their staff and patients, and their IT infrastructure,” noted the report.


Alertsec is the full disk encryption service that delivers a mobile data protection system for all information stored on laptops used throughout your organization.

Unsecured database and data breach

April 16th, 2016

Einstein Healthcare Network announced possible data breach when one of its databases was left unsecured on its website. Einstein Healthcare Network is a Pennsylvania-based healthcare network. The incident has affected approximately 3,000 individuals.

According to the reports, Einstein Healthcare Network found that one of its website databases was available to unauthorized users. Accessible information included patient information that was entered by individuals on information form on the healthcare network’s webpage.

EHR systems was not connected to the website. Affected information included patient names, telephone numbers, reasons for submitting requests, healthcare provider names, and health information.Social Security numbers, financial information, or EHR information was not present on the database. Individuals who entered Information on the webpage’s form before feb 2016 were affected.

“It’s important to note that in the data we evaluated, hacking or IT incidents only accounted for about one in 10 data breaches,”said study lead author Dr. Vincent Liu, a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland.

“While hacking has garnered a lot of recent attention, a more common reason for breaches is simple theft of unsecured paper or electronic records,” he continued. “Nonetheless, the potential for hacking to result in a large number of compromised records tends to be higher than for other sources of data breaches.”

Einstein Healthcare Network has now secured the website database and removed it from public view. Internal investigation is also ordered by Einstein Health.

A call center was created to answer questions related to this incident. Einstein Healthcare Network also mentioned that it is committed to improving security measures on its website. Healthcare believes that they have no knowledge that any patient information has been used improperly. Notification letters are sent to affected individuals.

According to the statement by Einstein, “To help prevent something like this from happening in the future, we have secured the website database and are enhancing our security measures for the website. We deeply regret any concern this may cause our patients.”

The breach was not result of hacking but due to technical error. Albert Einstein Healthcare Network is a system based in Philadelphia. Healthcare operates as Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, MossRehab with locations throughout Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties, Einstein Medical Center Elkins Park, and Einstein Medical Center Montgomery in East Norriton. Rehabilitation beds and skilled nursing beds as well as primary care and specialty physician practices are available in it’s facilities.


Alertsec is the full disk encryption service that delivers a mobile data protection system for all information stored on laptops used throughout your organization.

Stolen laptop and data breach

April 14th, 2016

Laptop theft can lead to data breach. OptumRx, the pharmacy care branch of a health services and technology company in Minnesota suffered data breach due to the theft incident. An unencrypted laptop was stolen from an employee’s vehicle in Indianapolis, Indiana as per the reports. OptumRx mentioned that laptop belonged to an unnamed vendor who provides home delivery services to patients.

Affected information included names, health plan names,addresses, prescription drug information, and prescribing provider information. For some individuals, dates of birth may have been exposed.

It also confirmed that Social Security numbers, credit cards, and other financial information was not involved.

Company did not specify the number of affected individuals. Also, Office of Civil Rights data breach portal didn’t mention the number of individuals affected by the security incident.

OptumRx has now contacted local authorities and launched an outside investigation. It has also mailed notification letters to potentially affected individuals.

“In addition, we have worked with the vendor to put immediate and additional protections in place to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents in the future,” explained OptumRx’s notification letter. “These measures include additional security requirements on laptops they use for OptumRx work, training and reinforcement of existing policies and practices, and further evaluation of additional safeguards.”

The company is also working with local law enforcement. Vendor is asked to put in place additional levels of protection for its laptops. One free year of identity theft protection services is also offered to individuals. It is supplying each with a one-year subscription to LifeLock.

LifeLock subscription includes following facilities to users:

  • Identity Threat Detection and Alerts:

With this service, LifeLock actively monitors an extensive online network for attempts to use your personal information. Whenever suspicious activity is detected, user will receive an alert via email or phone.

  • Wallet Protection

It also provides services for missing wallet. It has asked users to just call— anytime, anywhere—and LifeLock will help cancel or replace the contents to stop fraudulent activities. Coverage under this scheme includes credit and debit cards, Social Security cards, driver’s licenses, insurance cards, checkbooks and travelers checks.

  • Address & Verification

Impersonating can be done and Identity thieves can redirect your mail, containing financial information and providing a fraudulent new address. LifeLock monitors these such kinds of requests and notifies the user.

  • Black Market Surveillance

Identity thieves also get involved in illegal buy, sell and trade sensitive personal information on black market Internet sites. LifeLock now patrols over 10,000 criminal websites. Any suspicious activity is  notified to the user.

  • Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers

LifeLock works with bank to reduce emailing to affected individuals to avoid identity theft.

  • LifeLock Member Service 24/7/365

Sign in to your secure member portal at is available all the time.


Alertsec is the full disk encryption service that delivers a mobile data protection system for all information stored on laptops used throughout your organization.

Data Breach Due to Email Misconduct

April 11th, 2016

Val Verde Regional Medical Center recently announced data breach when unsecured PHI in an email was discovered.

“On or about August 9, 2015, an independent healthcare provider downloaded unsecured protected health information and emailed it to a personal account without encryption protection,” explained the press release. “In addition, the independent contractor was not authorized to access some of the protect[ed] health information.”

Val Verde Regional Medical Center came to know about health data breach on December 8, 2015. Affected patient information in the email included names, addresses, phone numbers, medical record numbers, and visit numbers.

According to the OCR data breach portal, two thousand individuals were affected by the incident. Val Verde Regional Medical Center launched an investigation. It also notified patients who were possibly affected by the event.

Internal audit and improved security measures to the hospital’s HIPAA security program is being undertaken by the hospital.

Val Verde Medical Center  believes that there have been no reports of improper use of PHI, patient medical histories, or Social Security numbers by unauthorized individuals. It has encouraged all potentially affected patients to monitor credit reports for suspicious activity.

Users are advised to take necessary steps.They are advised to obtain credit reports from one or more of the major credit reporting agencies to monitor financial accounts for unauthorized activity. Consumers are entitled to  get a free copy of their credit report from each of the major nationwide credit reporting companies once every 12 months. They need to request the same as per the federal law.

Del Rio and surrounding communities received services from Val Verde Regional Medical Center since 1959. Val Verde Regional Medical Center considers the privacy of patients as a high priority task. It is guided by the mission to improve the health of the people in the communities served.


Alertsec is the full disk encryption service that delivers a mobile data protection system for all information stored on laptops used throughout your organization.

Healthcare Data Security and Hackers

April 9th, 2016

In recent times, hackers are looking for innovative ways to infiltrate through covered networks. With digitization of healthcare industry comes challenges to secure patient information. But the change has brought speed, efficiency, and effectiveness to treat patients and prevent diseases. The scenario is also boon for hackers. All the sensitive data is now present on the server which can be hacked.

According to the reports, the healthcare industry was the most targeted sector for cyber attacks in 2015. Cyber

attacks have compromised over 100 million medical records.  Attack on Anthem’s network resulted into 70% of all compromised records.

According to the CEO of Vigitrust, Mathieu Gorge,  “The first thing to consider is the actual value of the patient data, so if you go to a hospital or to your GP, data that is held about you has a lot of value to you and we need to protect the confidentiality and integrity of that.”

The reason behind the cyber attacks on healthcare are on the rise due to following reasons

 Sensitive Personal Information

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) is being used frequently in the healthcare industry. The availability of information lures hackers to get ransom for sensitive information.  Sometime attack lock medical histories, psychological profiles, and family connections to billing data and addresses. Hackers can then demand money to unlock affected information.
Hackers can also indulge in activities like insurance fraud, identity theft, and extorting victims. The most shocking fact of the medical information is that it can be used number of times unlike credit cards which can be blocked immediately.  Also, healthcare data is extremely valuable in the black market.

Taking advantage of Intellectual Property
Considering R& D department of big companies, there is possibility of cyber attack to gain access to intellectual property. Due to competitive market, the price of intellectual property sky rockets in the grey market.

Lack of Awareness
Recent trends show that the healthcare industry is undergoing fast transition towards digitization. IT is migrating health records to digital and using new storage and processing techniques to analyze patient data. But the pace with which data is translated is not reflected into security aspects. One needs to keep security process intact to safeguard data.

Human Resources
There is a lack of security professionals in the healthcare industry. Many who are working in the industry don’t have enough knowledge to handle sophisticated cyber attack.

Innovation in Attack
Below are the few examples where hackers have gone beyond the conventional attack. Example includes – remotely modifying the dosage rates of an insulin pump and manipulation of baby monitors.

To safeguard data, Gorge suggest that, “The first thing to do, if you are an entity that has access to health records, is to make sure you have a data classification policy. This allows you to do an inventory of your data: The structured data, the unstructured data, that you hold yourself, and the data that you might need to access that might be held by another entity.”


Alertsec is the full disk encryption service that delivers a mobile data protection system for all information stored on laptops used throughout your organization.