A clinic in Florida, USA, has sent written warnings to up to 520,000 patients, alerting them to a data breach the healthcare establishment fears took place earlier this year.
The clinic, which specialises in providing medical care for women has notified both current and former patients that their personal and private records may have been exposed in the leak which officials think took place before or on April 29th 2019.
North Florida OB-GYN joined Women’s Care Florida on the following May 6th, only to become alert to a possible cyber-attack on its networks on July 27th of this year.
In an official statement posted on the North Florida OB-GYN website, the organisation said:
“Shortly after becoming aware of the incident, North Florida OB-GYN completed a preliminary assessment, in consultation with third-party information technology consultants, and determined that there had been improper access to certain portions of its networked computer systems and that a computer virus had encrypted (made unreadable) certain files on its computer systems.”
The results of the investigation led chiefs at the clinic to close down the computer system network and launch the clinic’s incident response and recovery protocols. The FBI were notified of the data breach, while the health centre also initiated a private forensic investigation to explore the full extent of the intrusion.
Medical or personal information affected by the incident may have included patient names, demographic information, dates of birth, social security numbers, drivers’ licenses or identification card numbers, employment information, health insurance information, and health data, such as treatment, diagnosis, and related information and medical images.
The IT infrastructures hit by the breach did not hold any payment card or further financial information. Each of the 528,188 patients that may be victims of the breach has been contacted by letter and warned that their personal data may have been exposed, North Florida OB-GYN says.
In a further official notice, North Florida OB-GYN wrote: “There is no evidence to date that any unauthorized person has actually viewed, retrieved, or copied any medical or personal information.”
Patients at the clinic have been advised to stay alert to the potential for the breach to continue spreading by regularly checking account statements, monitoring free credit reports and letting financial institutions know of any further suspicious activity.
Almost all of the encrypted files have now been recovered, and North Florida OB-GYN has taken measures to bolster cyber-security for the affected systems and to offset risk of similar incidents occurring in future.
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