Partners HealthCare System, whose hospitals include Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s, revealed today that it had discovered a malware attack in May, 2017 that may have exposed 2,600 patients’ information. They learned of the problem on May 8, but because data was mixed in with code, numbers, other data, and unformatted, it took them quite a while to figure out who was impacted and who needed to be notified.
The statement on their web site begins:
On May 8, 2017, Partners HealthCare System, Inc. (“Partners”) became aware that our computer network had been affected by a sophisticated, malicious computer program introduced by an unauthorized third party. Our monitoring systems identified suspicious activity, and we immediately blocked some of this malware and began an investigation working with third party forensic consultants to identify the problem and mitigate its impact.
We were able to determine that the malware was not specifically targeted to impact the Partners environment, Partners operations or any information maintained by Partners. We also confirmed that there was no access to our electronic medical record system. As we continued the investigation, however, we became aware that the malware may have resulted in unauthorized access to certain data resulting from user activity on affected computers from May 8, 2017 to May 17, 2017. As impacted computers were identified, Partners implemented aggressive containment measures to mitigate further impact.
As part of our ongoing review, we became aware on July 11, 2017 of data that appeared to possibly involve personal and health information. The impacted data was not in any specific format, and it was mixed in together with computer code, dates, numbers and other data, making it very difficult to read or decipher. After an extensive manual data analysis completed in December 2017, we are notifying individuals whose personal and health information may have been involved, in an abundance of caution. Based on the review, the information involved may have included certain types of protected health information for patients, including first and last name, date(s) of service, and/or certain limited amounts of clinical information such as procedure type, diagnosis, and/or medication. For some patients, Social Security Numbers and financial account data may have been involved. However, we are currently not aware of any misuse of patients’ health information.
Read more of their statement on their site.