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Health System Victimized by Phishing Attack

May 28, 2015
by Gabriel Perna
| Reprints

In what has become an alarming trend, another healthcare organization suffered a major breach in cyber security.  

Beacon Health System, in South Bend, Ind., suffered from what it says was a “sophisticated’ phishing attack from November of 2013 to January of this year. The phishing attack allowed intruders to gain access to Beacon email boxes, which in turn, contained protect health information on an undisclosed amount of patients.

The information in the emails included patient name, doctor's name, internal patient ID number, and patient status. For a smaller amount, it also included Social Security number, date of birth, driver's license number, diagnosis, date of service, and treatment and other medical record information.  As per the customary tactic, Beacon is offering a year of free identity and credit monitoring for the affected individuals.

More data breaches are happening because of cyber criminal attacks. Recently, the Austin, Tx.-based Seton Family of Hospitals, part of Ascension health system, acknowledged a phishing attack on its organization that potentially exposed the PHI for approximately 39,000 patients. A few weeks ago, the Ponemon Institute announced that for the first time providers reported that the No. 1 root cause of their data breaches was criminal and malicious attacks, surpassing mistakes and employee negligence.

“Criminal attacks are up 125 percent compared to five years ago” among survey respondents, said Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, adding that 45 percent of healthcare organizations surveyed said the root cause of the data breach was a criminal attack and 12 percent said it was due to a malicious insider.


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