NC: Alamance Skin Center breach left patient data totally unrecoverable

Alamance Skin Center recently reported a HIPAA breach to HHS as being a “Loss” incident with data in EMR.  But previous media coverage provided an even more dire understanding of   the incident.

On November 4, Triad Business Journal reported that the medical practice, part of Cone Health, had been the victim of a ransomware attack. The attackers reportedly gained a foothold via a phishing attack. The type of ransomware was not reported.

According to Cone Health, “a thorough forensic investigation concluded that no patient information was taken in the attack. However, patient data at the practice is unrecoverable.”

Alamance notified HHS that 100,000 patients were impacted by the incident.

Alamance’s notification on their web site follows, in part. It explains that the ransomware attack was in late July, but it was on October 21 that they discovered that data were unrecoverable.  They do not mention whether they had any backup or if so, how recent it might be.

We are providing notice of a recent incident at Alamance Skin Center that may have impacted the personal information of certain patients. We have not received any reports of the actual or attempted misuse of patient information; however, as patient information is currently unrecoverable, we wanted to promptly notify our patients of this event.

What Happened? Alamance Skin Center, a Cone Health practice since 2017, discovered that it was the victim of a ransomware cyber-attack in late July. In response, Alamance Skin Center immediately took impacted systems offline and began an investigation with assistance from a third-party forensic firm. The incident was also reported to law enforcement.

What Information Was Involved? While the investigation did not find that patient information was compromised during the attack, on October 21, 2020 we confirmed that certain patient data is unrecoverable. As such, we chose to notify our patients in full transparency. The data in question includes patient names, medical record numbers, dates of birth, diagnosis information, addresses, and date(s) of service.

What We Are Doing? As part of Alamance Skin Center’s ongoing commitment to the security of information in its care, Alamance Skin Center will be reviewing existing policies and procedures and implementing additional safeguards to prevent unauthorized activity.Impacted patients will also receive written correspondence concerning this incident.

For More Information: If you have any questions, please call our toll-free dedicated assistance line at 855-914-4662, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Eastern Time. You may also write to Alamance Skin Center c/o Cone Health Audit and Compliance Services at 1200 North Elm Street, Greensboro, NC, 27401. Patients who have scheduled an appointment with Alamance Skin Center should call the practice to confirm the time and date of the appointment.

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