Apria Healthcare notifies 1.2 million patients of hacking incidents in 2019 and 2021

HIPAA requires that covered entities notify HHS and affected patients of a reportable breach within 60 calendar days of discovery of a breach. Exceptions are made if law enforcement asks an entity to delay notification so as not to interfere with an investigation, but such requests are infrequent.

So why are we first finding out that Apria Healthcare suffered breaches from April 5, 2019 to May 7, 2019 and from August 27, 2021 to October 10, 2021 without any explanation for the delay from September 1, 2021 until now?

External counsel for Apria reported the situation to the Maine Attorney General’s Office yesterday. The sample notification letter to individuals submitted with the notification to the state states, “On September 1, 2021, Apria Healthcare LLC (“Apria”) received a notification regarding access to select Apria systems by an unauthorized third party. ” They do not say who notified them. Was it the FBI? Was it someone who just knew of the breach?  How did Apria first learn of this breach, and why hadn’t it been discovered by their own monitoring and detection systems? Their disclosure does not say.

Apria’s investigation showed that an unauthorized third party had accessed systems containing personal information from April 5, 2019 to May 7, 2019 and from August 27, 2021 to October 10, 2021. From their wording, it is not clear whether there was two separate incidents involving different bad actors or groups, or if it was likely the same bad actor was involved in both.

Apria writes, in part:

Based on its investigation and discussions with law enforcement, Apria believes the purpose of the unauthorized access was to fraudulently obtain funds from Apria and not to access personal information of its patients or employees. There is no evidence of funds removed, and Apria is not aware of the misuse of personal information related to this incident. A small number of emails and files were confirmed to have been accessed, but there is no proof that any data was taken from any system. For the individuals receiving this notice, the investigation was unable to confirm whether any emails or files about you were actually accessed.

Because HIPAA and HITECH are clear about the presumption of a breach absent proof of no breach, Apria is notifying 1,869,598 people,  7,162 of whom are Maine residents. The incident is not yet posted on HHS’s public breach tool.

Those being notified are being offered 12 months of identity monitoring services.

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