Data theft

Data breach trends in 2016

April 5th, 2017

As per the IBM report, data breach increased 566 percent in 2016 from 600 million to more than 4 billion. The report also mentioned that healthcare in no longer the most attacked sector. Most of the attack was carried out on financial services industry.

In 2016, 12 million records were affected in healthcare. In previous year, the breach was 100 million records which counts to eighty eight percent drop. IBM surveyed 8000 security clients in 100 countries.

IBM Security Vice President of Threat Intelligence Caleb Barlow mentioned that the cyber attacks was carried out with innovative techniques.

“While the volume of records compromised last year reached historic highs, we see this shift to unstructured data as a seminal moment,” Barlow said in a statement. “The value of structured data to cyber-criminals is beginning to wane as the supply outstrips the demand. Unstructured data is big-game hunting for hackers and we expect to see them monetize it this year in new ways.”

IBM mentioned that for ransomware attacks, 70 percent of the companies paid more that $10,000 to regain the access to data. According to the FBI, cyber-criminals were paid $209 million in first three months of 2016.

Ransomware attacks are on the rise with 400 percent increase. In the coming time healthcare will do many reforms which includes increase in internet of things (IoT) technology. This will increase the attacks.

“Retail and financial services have battened down their hatches,” IDC Health Insights Research President Lynne Dunbrack told HealthITSecurity.com in a 2016 interview. “Now the cyber criminals might still be nipping at those heels, but they are looking at other targets, healthcare being one of them.”

CynergisTek Vice President Dan Berger mentioned that attacks against healthcare are carried out with sophistication.

“The dramatic increase in hacking attacks in 2016, coupled with the large number of patient records compromised in those incidents, points to a pressing need for providers to take a much more proactive and comprehensive approach to protecting their information assets in 2017 and beyond,” Berger stated.

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Data breach due to computer virus

March 29th, 2017

Lane Community College (LCC) health clinic recently announced data breach when one of its technician  found a computer virus in the system. The incident has affected PHI of some patients.

As per the reports, virus was transmitting the names, addresses, phone numbers, diagnoses, and Social Security numbers to unidentified third party almost for a year. Facility has notified potentially impacted patients.

“We have no evidence that any of the information was transmitted (from LCC), but there’s the possibility,” LCC Vice President of College Services Brian Kelly said in a statement to the Register-Guard.

Facility conducted internal investigation. It checked 20 other computers at the health clinic. It concluded that only computer was infected with virus. The incident has affected 2,500 individuals.

LCC has advised patients to monitor their bank accounts. Suspicious activity or any threat should be reported to the police. The college health clinic also asked patients to report data breach to their banks, credit bureaus, and credit card companies.

July 2016 HIPPA Journal mentioned that, “Cyberattacks on healthcare organizations are now a fact of life.”

OCR breach portal do not include all the data breaches that are happening around. But the current breach reports gives us the idea of pattern –

48 data breaches were reported as unauthorized access

43 data breaches were attributed to hacking or network server incidents

37 breaches were caused by the loss or theft of devices used to store ePHI or the loss/theft of physical records

4 breaches were due to the improper disposal of records

Stolen records or exposed data includes pattern as below:

60% were due to hacking (2,703,961 records)

78% were due to loss/theft (1,342,125 records)

6% were the result of unauthorized access or disclosure (342,748 records)

63% were the result of improper disposal (118,594 records)

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iCloud hacking incident

March 27th, 2017

“Turkish Crime Family”, the group of hacker is threatening to reset millions of iCloud accounts and delete all data from iPhones if ransom of $75,000 in crypto currency or $100,000 in iTunes gift cards is not paid.

Apple mentioned that its systems are not hacked.

“There have not been any breaches in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud and Apple ID,” the company mentioned. “The alleged list of email addresses and passwords appears to have been obtained from previously compromised third-party services.”

“To protect against these types of attacks, we always recommend that users always use strong passwords, not use those same passwords across sites and turn on two-factor authentication,” the company added.

As per the reports, passwords and email addresses matched to data from the linkedin breach that was disclosed last year.

John Bambenek, threat systems manager at Fidelis Cybersecurity, said the threat ultimately sounds like a stunt. “There are always people who make unfounded threats to organizations in the hope of an easy payday — in this case, the hackers want $100,000 in iTunes gift cards,” he said.

“Companies must take due diligence but assess the adversary before paying to see if the threat is real,” Bambenek added. “As in the physical world, the odds are that paying a ransom, especially in a public manner, means the threats only increase.”

Still, Lamar Bailey, director of security research and development for Tripwire mentioned that iPhones can be wiped remotely if hacker posses the data.

“The hackers cannot remove backups for Apple devices from the cloud, but changing the passwords will make it hard for the legitimate users to reset and recover their devices,” Bailey said.

In recent survey of 1001 iPhone users, forty seven percent said that they are not comfortable in storing sensitive data in icloud.

“The worst thing in the world would be if someone thought they backed something up, deleted it, and found that it wasn’t on the cloud,” Network Remedy business development manager Aaron Mangal told Clutch.

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Data breach at JobLink

March 25th, 2017

America’s JobLink (AJL) recently suffered data breach due to hacking incident. It works with state governments to help job seekers with necessary information across the United States. As per the reports, hacker viewed the personal information of job seekers across 10 states.

Affected information includes the names, Social Security numbers and birthdates of job seekers in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Oklahoma and Vermont. The incident has affected 4.8 million accounts.

After creating a new account hacker exploited a vulnerability  to access data. Company is working with law enforcement. It has also contracted a forensic firm to determine the extent of breach.

“The firm has verified that the method of the hacker’s attack has been remediated and is no longer a threat to the AJLA-TS system,” AJL mentioned.

Lisa Baergen, director of marketing at NuData Security said that whenever personally identifiable information (PII)  is involved, the stolen data can be cross-referenced with data from other breaches to present an even greater threat.

“As a society, we’ve reached the point where every organization entrusted with PII should be constantly testing and hardening its external and internal defenses, and embracing more proactive, effective levels of defense such as consumer behavior analytics solutions, which can constantly validate legitimate users — even when the stolen but accurate credentials are presented,” Baergen said. “That would be the best way to help prevent the sorts of deceitful transactions and identify theft that otherwise may lie ahead for these unfortunate JobLink victims.”

The recent surveys can be summarised as below. It shows the vulnerabilities present in the organizations:

  • Sixty nine percent of respondents mentioned that some of their organization’s existing security solutions are outdated
  • Ponemon Institute survey which was sponsored by Citrix mentioned that just 32 percent of respondents are confident that their employees’ devices are not providing criminals with access to their corporate networks and data
  • Forty eight percent of respondents said their organization has security policies
  • Thirty seven percent of respondents said their organization is highly effective in protecting sensitive data

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Data breaches due to unauthorized access

March 23rd, 2017

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System recently announced data breach which affected over 2,700 patients. The incident occurred due to unauthorized access over a three-year period between January 3, 2014 and January 10, 2017.

Facility conducted investigation which found out that employees of community physician groups, and an employee of a contracted vendor had access to patient records without proper explanation. Concerned employees are terminated.

“As part of the health system’s partnership with community physicians, access is provided to their practices so they can view the medical records of their patients who are referred to the VCU Health System for care and treatment. Access also is provided to certain contracted vendors who provide medical equipment to patients for continuity of care at discharge from the hospital.”

Affected information included patient names, addresses, dates of birth, medical record numbers, health care providers, visit dates and Social Security numbers.

Facility is providing one year of free credit monitoring.

Second incident involves Tarleton Medical who announced data breach recently. Incident involves unauthorized access of a data server containing PHI from patient medical records.

Affected information included patient names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and healthcare claims information.

Facility did not mention number of individuals affected. As per the OCR reporting tool, incident affected 3,929 individuals.

“We have taken steps to enhance the security of TM patient information to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future,” the healthcare organization explained in its notification letter.

Tarleton Medical contacted FBI. It is also offering patients free access to a credit monitoring service for one year.

As per the statement, it advised patients to follow below guidelines:

You can follow the recommendations on the following page to protect your personal information. You can also contact ID Experts with any questions Please note that the deadline to enroll is three months following the date of this letter. To receive the aforementioned services, you must be over the age of 18, have established credit in the U.S., have a Social Security number in your name, and have a U.S. residential address associated with your credit file. Your services start on the date that you enroll in the services and can be used at any time thereafter for 12 months following  enrollment.

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Alertsec helps you comply with HIPAA, PCI and SOX requirements. The implemented encryption is powered by CheckPoint and has the highest security certifications: FIPS 140-2, Common Criteria EAL4 and BITS.

Summit Reinsurances Services announces data breach

March 20th, 2017

Summit Reinsurance Services, Inc., recently suffered data breach when it became aware of a ransomware attack on its server. Patient PHI was present was involved in the incident. Facility immediately conducted Investigation. It mentioned that an unauthorized user accessed the server during March 13, 2016.

Affected information included Social Security numbers, health insurance information, provider names, and claim-focused medical records containing diagnoses and clinical information.

Facility didn’t mention the number of affected patients. Also, there is no information or evidence of any misuse of information. It is providing information about ways of protecting against identity theft and fraud. One year of free credit monitoring and identity restoration is provided.

As per the statement:

  • Facility is asking patients to remain vigilant against incidents of identity theft and fraud. Review of account statements should be done. Also, credit reports and explanation of benefits forms should be monitored for suspicious activity.
  • Three major credit bureaus can be reached directly to request a free copy of credit report.
  • Fraud alerts can be placed on the files that will alert affected patients before granting credit. But it will delay ability to obtain credit while the agency verifies identity.
  • Security freeze on credit reports can be placed. Once this is activated, credit bureau can’t release consumer’s credit report without the consumer’s written authorization. This facility will affect customers request for new loans, credit mortgages, employment, housing, or other services.

“In order to request a security freeze, you will need to supply your full name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, current address, all addresses for up to five previous years, email address, a copy of your state identification card or driver’s license, and a copy of a utility bill, bank or insurance statement, or other statement proving residence.”

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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 due to hacking

March 2nd, 2017

Emory Healthcare’s Orthopaedics & Spine Center and Brain Health Center (EHC) at Emory Clinic recently suffered data breach, which impacted almost 80,000 patients. Facility came to know about the incident on Jan 3, 2017. It involved third party database called Waits & Delays. As per the statement, the affected database was used for patients’ appointment information.

Affected information included patient names, dates of birth, contact information, internal medication record numbers, dates of service, and physician names. The above information was removed from the server by an unauthorized individual. The person demanded payment from EHC to restore the data.

As per the reports, individuals who scheduled an appointment at the Orthopaedics & Spine Center within Emory Clinic between March 25, 2015 and January 3, 2017, and any patients with an appointment at Emory Clinic Brain Health Center between December 6, 2016 and January 3, 2016 are potentially affected.

As per the OCR data breach reporting tool, incident affected 79,930 individuals.  Facility mentioned that no Social Security numbers, financial information, diagnoses, or any other information from patient EHRs were accessed during the incident.

Another instance of unauthorized access by an independent security research center was also noticed. It resulted due to efforts of finding gaps in application security to alert companies of areas needing improvement by security company.

Facility launched an internal investigation after the incident. It also notified law enforcement. Potentially affected individuals are also notified. EHC is performing analysis on its current security measures. Internal and external systems which contained patient information will be changed as per the reports.

EHC mentioned that it has no information or indication of accessed data misuse.

“Please refer to the notice you will receive in the mail regarding steps that you can take to protect yourself. In general, we recommend, as a precautionary measure, that you remain vigilant to protect against potential fraud and/or identity theft by, among other things, reviewing your account statements and monitoring credit reports closely. If you detect any suspicious activity on an account, you should promptly notify the financial institution or company with which the account is maintained. You should also promptly report any fraudulent activity or any suspected incidents of identity theft to proper law enforcement authorities, including the police and your state’s 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.

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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Healthcare companies to increase security spending

February 26th, 2017

As per the recent survey of more than 1,100 senior security executives worldwide, here are the results-

  • Seventy six percent of global healthcare organizations plan to increase security budget
  • Eight one percent of U.S. healthcare organizations mentioned that they will increase the security budget

As per the survey conducted by Thales Data Threat, sixty percent healthcare are deploying to cloud, big data, and IoT or container environments without proper security measures.  Ninety percent believes that they can face data breach.

“For healthcare data to remain safe from cyber exploitation, encryption strategies need to move beyond laptops and desktops to reflect a world of Internet-connected heart-rate monitors, implantable defibrillators and insulin pumps,” Thales e-Security vice president of strategy Peter Galvin said in a statement. “Adhering to the security status quo will create vulnerabilities that lead to breaches, and further erode customer trust.”

As per the Redspin’s Breach Report there is increase in data breach incidents in 2016.

“Healthcare providers have become the primary targets of malicious hackers, and their attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and disruptive to operations,” Dan Berger, vice president at CynergisTek, said in a statement (Redspin is now part of the CynergisTek portfolio).

“The dramatic increase in hacking attacks in 2016, coupled with the large number of patient records copmromised in those incidents, points to a pressing need for providers to take a much more proactive and comprehensive approach to protecting their information assets in 2017 and beyond,” Berger added.

Accenture conducted survey which concluded that 26 percent of U.S. consumers faced data breach. Fifty percent faced medical identity theft.

“Health systems need to recognize that many patients will suffer personal financial loss from cyber attacks of their medical information,” Reza Chapman, managing director of cyber security in Accenture’s health practice, said in a statement. “Not only do health organizations need to stay vigilant in safeguarding personal information, they need to build a foundation of digital trust with patients to help weather the storm of a breach.

Fifty percent found the breach by themselves by looking at their credit card statement. Twenty five percent changed their healthcare providers after the breach. Twenty one percent changed insurance plan. And nineteen percent took help of legal counsel.

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Alertsec helps you comply with HIPAA, PCI and SOX requirements. The implemented encryption is powered by CheckPoint and has the highest security certifications: FIPS 140-2, Common Criteria EAL4 and BITS.

Unauthorized EHR access at medical centre

February 22nd, 2017

Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center recently announced data breach, which has potentially affected 600 patient medical record. During routine review of employee access to the hospital’s electronic health records, St. Joseph’s came to know about the incident.

“Dignity Health and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center are committed to furthering the healing ministry of Jesus, and to providing high-quality, affordable healthcare to the communities we serve.”

As per the reports, sections of patient medical records were viewed without authorization by a part time hospital employee. Facility has sent advisory letters to impacted patients.

St. Joseph’s mentioned that the records did not contain Social Security numbers, billing, and credit card information. It also added that there is “no reason to believe these patients need to take any action to protect themselves against identity theft.”

“Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center is deeply committed to protecting its patients,” the statement explained. “Any person who accesses medical records without a job-related reason is in violation of St. Joseph’s policy and appropriate action has been taken in response to this event.”

The individuals who were patients at St. Joseph’s between Oct. 1, and Nov. 22, 2016 are notified. Potentially affected information included patient medical records, demographic information (e.g. names and dates of birth), and clinical data, such as doctor’s orders and diagnostic information.

“St. Joseph’s regrets any inconvenience caused by this incident. Letters have been mailed to patients whose medical records may have been viewed and the hospital has established a call center to answer any questions they may have. “

An electronic health record (EHR) is a digital patient’s record. EHRs are advantageous as they are  are real-time as well as patient-centric. It also contains broader view of patient’s record and care.

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