Phishing Scam at UC Davis Exposes Data for 1,800 Patients | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

Phishing Scam at UC Davis Exposes Data for 1,800 Patients

January 29, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The Sacramento, Calif.-based UC Davis Health System is in the process of notifying approximately 1,800 patients that e-mails containing their personal or medical information may have been compromised by an internet phishing scam that affected three UC Davis clinicians in mid-December.

The breach does not appear to have an identity-theft component, nor does it include access to the electronic health records (EHRs) of patients or their personal financial information, UC Davis officials say.

The phishing scam compromised three physicians’ e-mail accounts, which means that malicious software could potentially provide access to their e-mail, some of which contained patient health information. While data security experts are unable to determine the exact nature of the breach or whether any messages were specifically read, they say that the automated nature of typical phishing scams makes it unlikely that content from individual messages was viewed, according to a notice the health system’s website.

The content of patient information in the e-mails consisted primarily of name, medical record number and limited information associated with a clinic visit or hospital admission. No patient credit card or Social Security numbers were contained in the messages.

The clinicians first noticed the problem when they experienced the deletion of e-mails from their accounts and found their e-mail was being used to send messages to addresses outside the health system, presumably to obtain personal financial information, passwords and other individual identifiers.

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