Data theft

Data breach at rehabilitation facility

February 27th, 2017

Catalina Post-Acute and Rehabilitation recently announced data breach when paper files were left in an unattended area. The patient data and certain employee information were left temporarily vulnerable to possible unauthorized public access. Current or past residents and employees are encouraged to take steps to protect themselves.

Facility has mission statement provided on the website as, “Working together to create a sense of community, our dedicated and compassionate staff will strive to exceed your expectations and make a difference in the lives of those we serve by providing exceptional care and service, and remembering you are the reason we are here.”

The healthcare organization mentioned that it came to know about these files on December 5, 2016. Affected information included demographic information. Diagnoses and Social Security numbers in some cases. As per the OCR reporting tool, the incident affected 2,953 individuals.

Facility mentioned that it launched an investigation into the incident. Also, protocols in place relating to PHI storage and employee information are reviewed. It also mentioned that as per the internal investigation it appears that no patient or employee information was misused.

“Catalina Post-Acute and Rehabilitation is committed to the proper handling and protection of resident and employee information, and regularly assesses its systems and processes to ensure that this information is maintained and managed in accordance with State and Federal Law,” the online statement explained.

Facility also mentioned that consumers may request free copy of their credit report once 12 months from Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. These agencies have central website to provide free credit report.  It has also provided contact number to answer questions and queries of affected individuals.

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Data breach due to email hack

February 20th, 2017

Foot and ankle surgeon Jay Berenter’s office announced data breach due to an email hack. Hackers sent some patients an email that the office employees claimed not to have sent. As per the reports, the email sent to Dr. Berenter’s contacts  contained a DocuSign document waiting for their review.

As per the statement, “Dr. Berenter takes the protection of information seriously and understands how important trust is in a physician-patient relationship.”

Dr. Berenter’s office immediately sent another email informing patients not to access the DocuSign email. After the incident came to notice, Dr. Berenter’s office took steps to secure the email account. It also hired forensic IT specialists.

Investigation was carried out to determine the extent of breach. it also checked whether any of the office’s systems were affected. Facility mentioned that the incident was determined to be limited to the email account only. Potentially affected information includes patient registration forms, prescriptions, and patient names.  As per the data breach reporting tool, the incident affected 569 individuals.

Facility has also hired forensic IT specialists to investigate the incident further. It is trying to make sure that no electronic medical records were accessed. Facility is implementing new email system. Additional internal administrative steps are taken to prevent a similar hack.

Federal agencies of California Attorney General and the Federal Department of Health and Human Services are notified about the incident. Facility believes that there is no evidence to say that information is misused.

Dr. Berenter’s office has provided contact information to answer queries. One year of complimentary identity theft protection is provided to potentially affected clients. It has also encouraged to place a free 90 day fraud alert on affected accounts.

“Protecting your information is incredibly important to Dr. Berenter, as is addressing this incident with the information and assistance you may need.”

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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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Health Facility suffers email hack

February 7th, 2017

Multicare Health System recently announced data breach due to an email hack. The incident potentially affected 1,200 patients. The Washington health system mentioned that it has no information at this time to believe that any patient personal health information was accessed or misused in any way.

Facility will send the notification to affected patients. Also, patients have been advised to review their Explanation of Benefits statements and to remain vigilant to signs of irregularities related to their health insurance.

MultiCare stated that an unauthorized individual gained access to an employee email account. The information in the emails likely contained personal patient information ranging from addresses to account balances. Facility added that financial information and Social Security numbers were not present on the affected email account.

After the incident the affected email account has been secured. Password has been changed. Facility initiated an investigation into the incident and has provided contact information for patients concerned about the status of their information.

About Multicare:

“MultiCare is a not-for-profit health care organization with more than 10,000 employees and a comprehensive network of services throughout Pierce, South King, Thurston and Kitsap counties.

Facilities heritage dates back to the founding of Tacoma’s first hospital in 1882. Since then, it has grown to meet the ever-changing needs of our region-always focusing on excellence, innovation and patient care.”

When  email account gets hacked one should follow below steps to minimize the damage:

Initial step is to assess the damage done by hackers.

Visit the website of your email provider and try to regain the access.

Change the password by authorised method. Check inbox and trash for any password reset emails, which were not initiated by you.

Scan your computer with anti virus software. Many emails are hacked today to install virus on your computer.

Review your personal settings.

Validate the source  of any program, game and app before downloading it.

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Stolen laptop results in data breach

February 2nd, 2017

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Medical Group (CHLAMG) recently suffered data breach when one of its unencrypted laptop was stolen. The laptop contained personal health information of 3,600 patients.

According to the reports, laptop was taken away by thief from the locked vehicle of a CHLAMG physician at CHLA. Investigation conducted by the facility found that the laptop was encrypted to up-to-date institutional standards along with password-protection. But later review mentioned the possibility of unencrypted status of laptop.

Facility is notifying patients whose information was stored on the laptop. Affected information includes names, addresses, medical record numbers, and certain clinical information.

“Following the notification regarding the burglary, an investigation took place to determine whether patient health information existed on the laptop,” CHLA spokesman Lorenzo Benet said in a statement. “Based on the investigation, the laptop has not been used to access the internet. From that information, we believe that all data may have been erased from the device without any patient data being accessed.”

Also, a protocol is created to erase data from the laptop when it logs onto the internet next time. Notification letters sent by facility will instruct individuals to review health insurance documents for evidence of misuse or identify theft.

Facility also asked patients to review their Explanation of Benefits statements in case of any unusual behavior . Also, they are advised to notify the hospital immediately for any issues.

About Childrens Hospital Los Angeles

“Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has been named the best children’s hospital in California and among the top 10 in the nation for clinical excellence with its selection to the prestigious U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll. Children’s Hospital is home to The Saban Research Institute, one of the largest and most productive pediatric research facilities in the United States. Children’s Hospital is also one of America’s premier teaching hospitals through its affiliation with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California since 1932.”

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PHI available online

January 5th, 2017

Indiana-based Fairbanks Hospital recently mentioned that they suffered data breach. It said that Fairbanks employees had online access to certain current and former patients’ PHI. This access was not meant for all the employees.

“The investigation has determined that this issue existed since at least November of 2013, however we are unable to determine whether the issue existed prior to that time,” the hospital said. “We have now corrected this issue so that only the appropriate Fairbanks personnel has electronic access to files containing patient information.”

As per the OCR data breach reporting tool, incident affected 12,994 individuals. Breached information included names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, contact information, patient identification numbers, diagnoses, treatment information, health insurance information, and information related to initial admission and appointment scheduling.

Facility mentioned that the affected information will vary by patient. The majority of patients are “only having their name and limited information relating to initial admission and scheduling of appointments impacted.”

Fairbanks said that it is not aware of any actual or attempted misuse of the information. Facility is offering Identity and credit monitoring services.

“We encourage you to remain vigilant against incidents of identity theft and fraud, to review your account statements, and to monitor your credit reports and explanation of benefits forms for suspicious activity,” Fairbanks said. “This also includes reviewing account statements, medical bills, and health insurance statements regularly to ensure that no one has submitted fraudulent medical claims using your name and address.”

Fairbanks mentioned that individuals can place “fraud alert’ at no charge. This step will alert creditors to take additional steps to verify your identity prior to granting credit in your name. As this procedure tells creditors to follow certain rules, it may delay individuals’ ability to obtain credit.

Individuals can also place a security freeze on credit reports. This process will give rights to bureau not to release any information from a consumer’s credit report without the consumer’s written authorization. It may delay, interfere or prevent timely approval. It can affect processing for new loans, credit mortgages, employment, housing, or other services. This service is provided free of cost if individual provides valid police report.

Individuals can also educate themselves for identity theft, fraud alerts, and the steps one can take by contacting the Federal Trade Commission or individuals’ state Attorney General.

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

Ransomware attack

December 18th, 2016

Dr. Melissa D. Selke based in New Jersey recently announced a data breach. Facility website posted a data breach notification letter. The incident may have affected several thousand patients.

Selke found out that her system had been infected with a virus that prohibited access to patient files. The system was restored immediately. After investigation, the possibility of ransomware attack was analyzed. An unauthorized third party introduced the virus onto her system.

Melissa D. Selke, MD, has practiced privately in the area of Hillsborough and Somerset, New Jersey.  Her total experience of the practice is 15 years. She is board certified in Family Medicine.

Dr. Selke has following education qualification –

BA in behavioral biology with honors at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland

MD at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. After graduating

Residency in Family Medicine at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Affected information in this incident includes patients’ names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, treatment and diagnosis information, driver’s license information, health insurance information, treating physician information, medical record number, and treatment date(s).

Dr. Melissa mentioned in her letter that the third-party “viewed or took patient information stored on the server.”

“We take this incident, and patient privacy, very seriously,” Selke said in a statement. “We are taking steps to help prevent another incident of this kind from happening, and continue to review our processes, policies, and procedures that address data privacy.”

As per the OCR data breach reporting tool, incident has affected approximately 4,200 individuals.

While no protection services were offered, Selke encouraged affected individuals “to remain vigilant against incidents of identity theft and fraud.” Individuals should regularly review their financial account statements, credit reports, and explanations of benefits for suspicious activity, the notification letter said.

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Data breach at Quest Diagnostics

December 15th, 2016

Quest Diagnostics recently suffered data breach which may have involved the information of 34,000 patients. According to the reports,  an unauthorized third party got access of the MyQuest Care360® internet application.

Quest Diagnostics is a global company with headquarters in the U.S. It has operations in India, Ireland, and Mexico. Customers from more than 130 countries use its products and services. Facility also has collaboration with many international diagnostic laboratories, clinics and hospitals.

In United States, facility provides clinical testing services through a national network of laboratories. It is located in major metropolitan areas. In India, it provides a range of products and services to physicians, hospitals, life insurance companies and pharmaceutical/biotech companies through the state-of-the-art laboratory facility in Gurgaon.

In the data breach, Social Security numbers, credit card information, and insurance or other financial information are safe. Affected information included name, date of birth, lab results, and telephone numbers for few.

“When the intrusion was discovered, we immediately took steps to stop any further unauthorized activity,” read the letter, which was signed by Quest Executive Director of Compliance Operations & Privacy Office Carl A. Landorno. “We are taking steps to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future, and are working with a leading cybersecurity firm to assist with our investigation and to further evaluate our systems. We have also reported the incident to federal law enforcement authorities.”

Quest believes that there is no indication that the PHI has been misused in any way. It also mentioned that there is no need for potentially affected individuals to take additional steps to protect themselves from the breach.

“We sincerely apologize for this breach of your information. We have established a dedicated toll free number for you to call if you have any questions regarding this incident.”

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Data breach due to stolen flash drive

December 10th, 2016

OptumHealth based in New Mexico recently announced data breach. The incident was outcome of missing unencrypted flash drive. Approximately 2,000 individuals were affected.

The device contained information for some individuals who were enrolled in an OptumHealth plan. Affected information includes individuals’ name and a full or partial date of birth, telephone number, health identification number, address, provider name, diagnosis, or other health information. Financial information was not affected. Some individuals’ full or partial Social Security numbers were present on the flash drive.

“Upon discovery, we took prompt action to investigate the matter,” OptumHealth said in its statement. “The U.S. Postal Service was immediately notified to assist in locating the flash drive, and we are working closely with them as they further investigate the matter. We have implemented new measures to help prevent this from occurring in the future, including updating our processes related to vendors in efforts to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents.”

OptumHealth sent the notification letter to potentially affected individuals. Facility mentioned that there are few individuals who cannot be notified via mail.

While OptumHealth mentioned that “the information potentially accessed was limited,” it still encouraged individuals to enroll in the free services. As per the OCR data breach reporting tool, incident affected 2,006 individuals. It has also offered one year of complimentary identity theft protection services.

As per the statement,

We also encourage individuals to be vigilant against incidents of identity theft. As a precaution to protect against misuse of your information, we recommend that individuals regularly monitor documentation concerning health care, bank and credit card statements, and tax returns to check for any unfamiliar activity. If you notice any suspicious activity on health statements, bank or credit card statement, or tax returns, please immediately contact the financial institution, credit card company, health plan, or other relevant institution.

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

Data breach at Vascular Surgical

December 7th, 2016

Vascular Surgical Associates based in Georgia recently suffered data breach after one of its computer servers was hacked. As per the statement, the attack occurred during the time of a software update. After an initial investigation by the facility, it found out that a compromised vendor password was used in this incident.

As per the FAQ section of Vascular Surgical, it had “hired vendors with national reputations and significant client bases to support the computer system infrastructure we use to maintain our medical records.” Furthermore, the ONC had certified the software.

“A password that was created by one of these vendors and controlled by that vendor was used to access our system inappropriately,” the FAQ read. “The perpetrators installed software on our system to prevent us from seeing the activity, but once that activity was identified by our internal IT staff, the system access was changed to prevent additional access using that password.”

As per the OCR data breach reporting tool, incident affected 36,496 individuals. As per the preliminary reports, it is likely that the hackers reside in other countries. Affected information included medical records and demographic information such as dates of birth and addresses. Social Security numbers and financial data were not present on the compromised server. Facility also mentioned that portal was not involved or affected. Patient care is carried as usual.

“Upon learning of the incident and verifying the unauthorized access through forensic evaluation, we immediately secured the server so that this type of attack could not occur again,” the statement explained. “We are confident that none of our staff had any involvement in this incident, as the compromised password that was used to access the information was only available to our vendors and their staffs.”

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