FL: NCH Healthcare (finally) sends breach notification letters for June, 2019 breach

In August, 2019, this site reported on an incident at NCH Healthcare in Florida. At the time, it was not clear whether patient data was impacted in the phishing incident.  The entity had become aware of suspicious activity on June 14, but by mid-August, there was no report on HHS’s public breach or detailed disclosure.

Now the entity has issued an updated breach disclosure, it seems, although there is still nothing up on HHS’s public breach too as of the time of this posting.

NCH Healthcare System, Inc. (“NCH”) is providing notice of an incident that may affect the privacy of certain information so that potentially affected individuals may take steps to better protect their personal information, should they feel it appropriate to do so.


What Happened? 

On or around June 14, 2019, NCH became aware of suspicious activity related to our human resources, timekeeping, and payroll system. We immediately launched an investigation into this suspicious activity and determined that certain employees fell victim to an email phishing scheme that allowed an unauthorized actor (hacker) to gain access to the employee’s payroll records as well as their email accounts. Importantly, NCH patient medical record systems were not affected by this incident, and the sole purpose of the attack appears to have been to reroute direct deposit payroll funds; however, the stolen credentials allowed access to employee email accounts.  Third party specialists undertook a diligent and time-consuming manual and programmatic review of the entire contents of the relevant email accounts to determine what data was present as the investigation was not able to determine if any email was actually viewed.  On December 19, 2019, the review provided confirmation of the identities of those individuals who may have had information present within the email accounts under review. NCH then began the laborious task of populating address information from our internal records system.

What Information Was Involved? While, to date, the investigation has found no evidence of actual or attempted misuse of the information present in the relevant email accounts, NCH did determine that the email accounts affected by this incident may include some combination of the following information: patient name, date of birth, driver’s license number, tribal identification number, financial account information, payment card information, medical history, treatment information, medication or prescription information, beneficiary information, provider information, patient identification number, health insurance information, and/or username/email and password information.  Less than five (5) percent of the population had a Social Security number accessible.

What is NCH Doing?  The confidentiality, privacy, and security of personal information in our care is one of our highest priorities. Upon learning of the suspicious payroll activity, we immediately commenced an investigation and took steps to secure our systems.  We worked with the third-party forensic investigators to confirm the full nature and scope of this event.  We are notifying potentially affected individuals of this event and providing them with information and resources to assist in protecting personal information. While NCH has measures in place to protect information in its systems, NCH is implementing additional safeguards to protect the security of information.

As an added precaution, NCH is offering potentially affected individuals access to two years of credit monitoring and identity theft restoration services through IDExperts® to provide potentially affected individuals with MyIDCare™.  Enrollment information can be found in the letter received by those who may be affected.

What You Can Do?  NCH encourages individuals to review and consider the information and resources outlined in the below “Steps You May Take to Protect Personal Information.”

For More Information? You may write to NCH at 350 7th Street North, Naples, FL 34102 or call 1-833-554-0465 Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET (excluding U.S. holidays), with any additional questions.

You can read the full press release here.

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