data security

Break In causes data breach

February 14th, 2017

Wichita, Family Medicine East, Chartered based in Kansas reported that it suffered data breach due to theft of an unencrypted desktop computer and printer from its facility. As per the reports, an individual got into the building by breaking an exterior window. Family Medicine mentioned that police have not yet caught the thief. Also, stolen items are not recovered.

Family East mentioned that “a significant number contained images of typed office notes dictated by Family Medicine East physicians during 2002 and 2003.”

Affected information included patient names, dates of birth, appointment dates, and the name or initials of the physician or PA who saw patients were in the notes. Social Security numbers and addresses are not included in the breach. Letters written to other physicians discussing a Family Medicine referral were included for few. Letters were also identified by name and information about their medical condition.

“[The notes and letters] were typed by transcriptionists engaged for that purpose in 2002 and 2003,” Family East said in its online statement. “The files remained on the computer that was stolen as a result of an employee’s oversight, and were not detected during a number of risk analyses undertaken prior to the theft, as part of efforts to secure all individually identifiable health information.”

Individuals who got treated in 2002 or 2003 are asked “to take steps to eliminate or minimize potential harm that could be caused by the theft.” Steps also include obtaining credit reports and monitoring their financial and baking accounts for activities.

Facility mentioned that it is offering complimentary credit monitoring services to potentially affected patients. It also said that all computers and systems will be encrypted.

“While Family Medicine East hopes to recover the stolen computer, this may not be possible,” the statement explained. “As part of its ongoing effort to prevent breaches of protected health information, Family Medicine East began the process of encrypting health information stored on laptop computers used by the doctors, PAs and nurses for patient care some time ago.”

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Software glitch at TriHealth

January 31st, 2017

TriHealth recently suffered software glitch which replaced the mailing addresses of 1,126 TriHealth patients with an old address. The healthcare organization had the old address on another file. The glitch resulted in sending billing statements and other correspondence to the previous addresses of patients.

“Please be assured that TriHealth takes patient privacy very seriously. The addresses of the affected patients have been corrected in TriHealth’s computer system and the software problem has been fixed. Please accept our sincere apology for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

Facility mentioned that they can’t confirm whether the billing statements was sent to patients current addresses. It is notifying patients of the incident. Incorrect billing statements, advisory letters, and other letters were sent to affected patients between November 15, 2016 and January 12, 2017.

Affected information included patient name, financial charges, payments and adjustments, balance and amount due, and appointment reminders, among other pieces of information. Facility mentioned that no sensitive patient information, such as Social Security numbers or credit card numbers, were affected.

TriHealth mentioned that there is no evidence of information misuse. It has offered a free credit report annually. It has now resolved the software problem.

About TriHealth

“Bethesda and Good Samaritan Hospital joined together to form TriHealth in 1995, bringing together two of Cincinnati’s finest health care organizations. Through these two acute care hospitals and more than 130 sites of care, TriHealth provides a wide range of clinical, educational, preventive and social programs. TriHealth’s non-hospital services include physician practice management, fitness centers and fitness center management, occupational health centers, home health and hospice care.”

According to a study conducted most of data breaches are the result of human mistakes and system problems.

“While external attackers and their evolving methods pose a great threat to companies, the dangers associated with the insider threat can be equally destructive and insidious,” says Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of security research think tank the Ponemon Institute.

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CoPilot security breach

January 28th, 2017

CoPilot Provider Support Services, Inc. recently suffered a data breach. Facility mentioned that it detected unauthorized access at one of its databases. Potentially affected patients of this incident are notified. Facility has no information or evidence that the accessed data is misused.

“CoPilot recognizes the importance of protecting patient information and is committed to taking steps to prevent this type of incident from occurring again in the future, including the monitoring of its databases by K2 Intelligence, Inc., an independent and nationally renowned forensic IT firm. “

Incident affected database which included information on approximately 220,000 individuals. Patient names, addresses, health insurers, and Social Security numbers are included in the breach. Facility immediately launched an investigation into the incident. The investigation concluded that no sensitive PHI was accessed by an unauthorized party. It also found out that no financial information, medical treatment records or other sensitive information were accessed.

CoPilot issued letters to potentially affected patients informing them about the ways to protect themselves in the future. Facility has offered identity theft protection services to impacted individuals. They are also advised to regularly check their financial institution statements, account statements, and any other relevant accounts for possible unauthorized activity. Also, individuals are supposed to immediately report any suspicious activity.

The database was intended for healthcare professionals in the U.S. to let know patients on whether certain aspects of treatment are covered by insurance.

About CoPilot Provider Support Services, Inc.

“CoPilot is a fully integrated healthcare administrative services and information technology organization supporting providers in understanding the complexities of health insurance benefits, coding, coverage, and payments for each of their patients to ensure optimal treatment and better healthcare outcomes. CoPilot leadership includes executives with managed care, government, healthcare IT, call center and innovative portal development/operations experience. “

Company has setup dedicated call center to address the queries of affected patients.

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Cybersecurity breach at Virginia hospital

January 23rd, 2017

Sentara Healthcare announced data breach when one of its third party vendors suffered a cybersecurity breach. The incident affected personal health information. Vascular and thoracic procedures occurring between 2012 and 2015 at a Sentara facility where involved in this breach. Potentially accessed information includes patients’ names, medical records, and Social Security numbers.

“We assure our patients that we are committed to the security of the personal information we maintain and are taking this matter very seriously. To help prevent something like this from happening in the future, the vendor has informed us that it is enhancing its system security. In addition, Sentara continually strengthens policies and procedures and invests in technologies which protect our information technology systems.”

Sentara started the investigation by reaching third party vendor. It also called upon law enforcement. It has started sending and mailing advisory to affected individuals.

Facility suggested that the affected patients should check for any signs of possible fraud. Also, they are advised to review account statements and get free credit reports. Organisation has provided resources to help for future security.

“If you believe you are the victim of identity theft or have reason to believe your personal information has been misused, you should immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission and/or the Attorney General’s office in your state. You can obtain information from these sources about steps an individual can take to avoid identity theft as well as information about fraud alerts and security freezes.  You should also contact your local law enforcement authorities and file a police report.  Obtain a copy of the police report in case you are asked to provide copies to creditors to correct your records.”

Sentara is one of the nation’s top integrated healthcare systems. It works on a not-for-profit system which includes imaging centers, nursing and assisted-living centers, outpatient campuses, physical therapy and rehabilitation services, home health and hospice agency, a 3,800-provider medical staff and four medical groups. It also provides medical transport ambulances and nightingale air ambulance.

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Ransomware attacks

January 13th, 2017

The Susan M. Hughes Center recently announced a data breach due to ransomware attack on its computer system. The incident has potentially affected patients. Facility has immediately launched an investigation. Also, they have reset all passwords and removed the infected server from the system.

A Forensic firm is employed for investigation. It determined that an unknown person accessed server files. The affected information included patient names, telephone numbers, dates of service, types of service or treatment, and amounts paid.

Facility mentioned that there is no evidence of misuse of patient information. Also, sensitive PHI including Social Security numbers or account numbers have not been accessed.

The Hughes Center has started mailing advisory letters to potentially impacted patients. Also, the facility established a call center to answer queries.

“We regret any inconvenience or concern this may have caused our patients. To help prevent something like this from happening in the future we are working with a security firm to enhance the security of our systems.”

Another ransomeware attack involves Summit Reinsurance Services, Inc. who alerted Alliant Health Plans, Inc. of a ransomware attack on its servers.  The affected server contained patient data of more than 1,000 Alliant members.  Facility mentioned that the investigation didn’t provided any evidence of data misuse. Also, Alliant mentioned that its members are at very low risk of data breach consequences.

Affected information included Social Security numbers, health insurance information, and claim-focused medical records.

Summit is updating its policies, procedures and protections for member information to minimise the damage.It also working on other precautionary measures to prevent further incident. Alliant will be continuing encryption to prevent foreign access of sensitive information.

Summit is notifying the affected individuals and also offering one year of identity theft protection to potentially impacted Alliant members.

“As always, Alliant and Summit recommend taking steps to prevent identity theft by monitoring your credit reports for any unusual activity.”

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Data breach due to virus

January 10th, 2017

Brandywine Pediatrics, P.A in Delaware recently suffered data breach exposing PHI for many patients. Brandone came to know about the incident when it discovered a file server which was locked due to virus.

Facility immediately recovered the files from backup tapes. Also, it started the investigation and took help of a forensic computer expert. This incident has affected certain PHI which includes name, address, and health insurance and medical information.

Brandwine mentioned that there is exposure of health information but it has not found any evidence which suggests that it was misused. It also included in statement that there is no chance of compromise of patients’ Social Security numbers or payment card information.

Affected individuals are notified about the incident and had asked to take steps to protect them. Facility has improved the security of its systems. Also, policies and procedures are reviewed.

Brandwine mentioned that the privacy and protection of the patients is a top priority.  It also deeply regret any inconvenience or concern this incident may cause. The number of affected individuals are not mentioned in the statement.

Types of attack to gain database access

Physical theft or loss of the device

Rogue employee or other insiders misusing privileges to gain financial or personal gains

Attacks on website and application by finding weaknesses in coding

Phishing to gain passwords and usernames. Legitimate-looking email are sent to employees

Installing malicious software which misdirects users to fraudulent websites

‘Dedicated Denial of Service’ attacks

Ransomware attacks

Point-of-sale intrusions

Remote attacks

Payment card skimmers

Viruses

Worms

Trojan Horses

 Data breaches also occur due to human errors which includes below –

Sending sensitive information to the wrong person by email or fax by mistake

Making information publicly available on a web server or website by mistake

Incorrect disposing of data which also includes paper data

Losing electronic device which contains sensitive data

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Ransomware leads to data breach

January 7th, 2017

Arizona-based Desert Care Family & Sports Medicine recently announced data breach due to ransomware attack. The incident has affected up to 500 patient records. Desert Care has notified local police and the FBI. It has also taken its server to IT specialists so that ransomware encryption can be broken to retrieve affected patient data. But they are not able to access the encrypted data. All hacked patient records remain unavailable.

Desert Care in the statement mentioned that “We understand that this may pose an inconvenience to you. We sincerely apologize and regret that this situation has occurred. Desert Care is committed to providing quality care, including protecting your personal information, and we want to assure you that we have policies and procedures to protect your privacy.”

Facility mentioned that it does not know whether the information has been exposed. It said that by the type of ransomware the intention was to gain access to information. It also mentioned that it doubts any information has been affected or copied onto a different system.

Affected patients are sent notification by the facility. It alerted them about the incident. According to the reports – full name, dates of birth, home addresses, account numbers, and disability codes are potentially exposed. Desert Care started a forensic investigation into the incident. Also, it is updating its technology and policies to prevent future attacks.

“Desert Care is taking steps to mitigate any data disclosure and to prevent any future incidents. The ransomware attack was reported to the authorities and we fully intend to cooperate with any investigations. In addition, we are conducting our own forensic investigation into the attack. We are also updating our technology and policies to prevent future incidents. “

Facility has advised the patients to make effort for protection which includes-

Consumers should register a fraud alert with one of three credit bureaus

Monitor all account statements, and contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Arizona Attorney’s General Office or the Federal Trade Commission’s Fraud Victim Assistance Department for assistance.

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Data breach at New Hampshire Hospital

January 2nd, 2017

New Hampshire Hospital recently suffered data breach when a patient reportedly hacked into the New Hampshire Department Of Health And Human Services (DHHS). PHI was posted online which affected 15,000 individuals.

DHHS came to know about the incident on November 4, 2016. Facilities internal files were posted on social media site. The list of DHHS clients are those who received services from DHHS prior to November 2015. Affected information includes names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and Medicaid identification numbers.

According to the reports, the person who accessed the information was patient at the facility. individual used a computer available for patient use in the hospital library. The individual was “observed by a staff member to have accessed non-confidential DHHS information on a personal computer located in the New Hampshire Hospital library.”

“The staff member notified a supervisor, who took steps to restrict access to the library computers. This incident, however, was not reported to management at New Hampshire Hospital or DHHS. In August 2016, a security official at New Hampshire Hospital informed DHHS that the same individual may have posted on social media some DHHS information. That was immediately reported to the Department of Information Technology, the State Police and other state officials.”

Facility believes that PHI was not misused. Also, credit card or banking information was not accessed. DHHS said that affected individuals are encouraged to monitor their credit and banking statements. They are told that they “can protect themselves from incidents of identity theft or fraud by reviewing their account statements and monitoring their credit.”

“Safeguarding the personal, financial and medical information of DHHS clients is one of this Department’s highest priorities,” DHHS stated. “DHHS will continue to work with state agency partners to make every effort to ensure that the Department’s data remains secure.”

Facility mentioned that they can report any suspicion of identity theft or fraud to local law enforcement Individuals and or the Consumer Protection Bureau at the New Hampshire Department of Justice.

“DHHS is making available a toll-free telephone number that affected individuals may call with questions about this incident.”

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Ransomware attack

December 30th, 2016

Summit Reinsurance Services recently suffered a potential cyber security threat. The incident may have affected thousands of current and former Black Hawk College employees. Summit works as reinsurance carrier for the Health Alliance, a third-party health insurance administrator for the college.

As per the website, “Summit Reinsurance provides a full-service managing general underwriter and reinsurance intermediary broker who focuses exclusively on managed care.”

Summit Re site also mentioned that it closely works with clients to completely understand risk profile. It also considers clients’ strategic vision and unique reinsurance needs. It believes that the traditional solutions don’t always provide the best experience. Customized solutions are needed considering clients’ requirements. It also provides medical management services to offer cost savings options.

After the attack, Summit informed Black Hawk. According to the reports, ransomware had infected a server containing information which includes names, Social Security numbers, health insurance information, and claim-focused medical records of current and former employees and their dependents.

As per the third-party forensic investigator, the incident occurred on March 12. Summit believes that there is no evidence for any personal information misuse. The investigation is currently ongoing. Also, potentially affected individuals are notified. They are informed about the steps which needs to be taken to improve security. Free access to one year of credit monitoring is provided.

Facility has set up call center to answer all the queries. Summit Reinsurance also suffered data breach earlier this month. That incident affected a server holding information including Social Security numbers and health insurance information.

“We are pleased that Summit Reinsurance Services is moving aggressively and taking the appropriate steps to notify the affected individuals and to minimize the impact this incident may have on them,” said Dr. Bettie Truitt, president of Black Hawk College.

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Data breach investigation and deadlines

December 29th, 2016

Balabit survey recently conducted a survey of more than 100 IT companies and security professionals. It has following observations:

Seventy-five percent fix time limit for investigation of potential data security incidents

Forty-four percent said that they missed internal or external deadlines of data breach investigation or reporting

Seven percent of respondents mentioned that they faced serious consequences due to missed deadline

“The Balabit survey identified that the primary reason for not being able to investigate data breaches in time is that organizations still do not understand their own data,” Balabit product manager Peter Gyongyosi said in a statement. “It is difficult for them to extract the necessary information from unstructured data with their existing tools and they lack the contextual information that would help transform this data into valuable, actionable information.”

Survey also found out that thirty percent need not report to external authorities about the progress

Seventy percent are required to report to external authorities but only twenty-five percent has set time limit

“Data and information are two different things entirely,” Prevalent director of product management Jeff Hill said. “The former is easy to collect; extracting the latter from it is much easier said than done.”

“The results of the Balabit survey are likely to surprise few in the cyber security community,” Hill added. “Investigating breaches is tedious, requires specific expertise, is increasingly difficult as attack vectors become more sophisticated, and is usually undertaken in a highly stressful and pressure-filled environment. Current techniques often require the painstaking parsing of millions of logs and identifying subtle changes in behavior.”

“CEOs are underestimating their companies’ cyber vulnerabilities,” RedSeal chairman and CEO Ray Rothrock said in a statement. “Their confidence does not square with what we observe. Cyber attacks are up and financial losses associated with these attacks are increasing dramatically.”

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Alertsecs cloud-based information security service provides an easy and convenient way to protect information on your organization’s laptops and computers.