Eye Associates of Pinellas notifying 87,000 patients of Bizmatics breach (update2)

On May 5, Southeast Eye Institute, P.A. (dba Eye Associates of Pinellas) notified HHS that it was notifying 87,314 patients of an incident they coded as “hacking/IT incident.”

There is no statement on their web site at this time and I can find nothing online that explains the incident. DataBreaches.net has contacted the practice requesting a statement and will update this post when more information becomes available.

Update 1: I spoke with them and it turns out this was part of the Bizmatics, Inc.  hacking incident I’ve noted previously on this site. Because of the way HHS allows entities to report breaches, we still have no idea as to how many Bizmatics clients and how many patients, total, were affected. As the Pain Treatment Centers of America had reported to their patients in disclosing the breach:

We have learned that Bizmatics became aware of the incident in late 2015, but neither Bizmatics, law enforcement, nor the cyber forensics firm is able to pinpoint the precise date on which the attack began. Bizmatics has communicated to us that it believes the incident began in early 2015.

We have no reason to believe that our patient files were the target of the hackers’ attack on Bizmatics. Due to the nature of the attack, Bizmatics cannot say for certain that PTCOA’s patient files were among the data that was accessed or acquired by the hacker.

DataBreaches.net has sent an inquiry to Bizmatics, Inc. seeking updated information from them on the incident. As an EHR management/storage vendor, this breach had the potential to impact hundreds of thousands of patients, or more. It would be helpful if we could learn the actual total number.

Update 2: Bizmatics still hasn’t responded, but Eye Associates of Pinellas kindly sent DataBreaches.net the text of the notification letter sent to patients on April 29. From the letter, it appears that Bizmatics not only failed to discover the breach in a timely fashion, but failed to notify all their clients in a timely way – other entities were notified back in January, but it appears EAP wasn’t notified until the end of March:

This letter is to notify you that your personal information may have been subject to an unauthorized access by unknown persons. Southeast Eye Institute, P.A. d/b/a Eye Associates of Pinellas (SE Eye) has been using practice management software maintained by an off-site vendor Bizmatics, Inc. (Bizmatics). SE Eye like many medical practices utilizes the services of independent off-site vendors for some services. On March 30, 2016, Bizmatics notified us that it had suffered a data breach and “at least some” of our patient file information had been accessed by unauthorized individuals. Bizmatics is a major provider of medical practice software serving over 15,000 medical practices. Bizmatics’ services to medical providers are covered by information security laws including HIPAA. Several other practices were also impacted by the breach. Bizmatics is unable to identify which patient files were accessed, therefore, we are unable to determine if your file was accessed. Bizmatics has advised us that it maintained information in segregated files to increase security. For example, names were kept separate from addresses. Bizmatics is unable to determine if the unauthorized persons are able to collate the various data files. Bizmatics has advised us that it has notified the FBI and has hired a leading cybersecurity firm to strengthen its defenses against cyberattacks including hardening its firewall and network configurations. SE Eye is no longer using the Bizmatics practice management software.

Bizmatics has advised us that the data breach appears to have occurred in January of 2015 but it did not immediately become aware of the incident. The personal information that may have been accessed could include your: name, address, telephone number, social security number, date of birth, and insurance information. No patient care/medical or credit card information was in the Bizmatics system. We are notifying the consumer credit reporting agencies as is required by Florida law.

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