Ransomware attacks of two more medical entities disclosed: one in U.S., one in Canada

It seems that every day, we learn of more ransomware attacks on healthcare entities.  Here are two more.

Arizona:  Cochise Eye and Laser

The most recent update to HHS’s public breach tool included an incident reported by RF Eye, P.C., dba Cochise Eye and Laser.

On February 17, the Arizona entity posted a notice on their web site that disclosed that it had experienced a ransomware attack on January 13.  The type of ransomware was not named but their patient scheduling and billing software were encrypted by the attack.

“There is no evidence that the data was taken, only that it was encrypted, and in some cases deleted, making it impossible for us to access anything in our scheduling system,” the notice states.

As of February 17, the practice was still operating with paper charts.

Everyone seen after January 1st, 2020 will be called to reschedule follow up appointments, as we have no way of knowing when they were originally scheduled.

Names, dates of birth, addresses, phone numbers, and in some cases social security numbers were stored in the practice’s billing software.

Patients have been given some advice on protecting themselves, but do not appear to have been offered any free credit monitoring or identity theft restorations services.

According to their notification to HHS, 100,000 patients have been impacted by this incident.

There is no mention in their notification as to any ransom or extortion demand, and this incident has not shown up on any of the approximately 20 dedicated leak sites used by threat actors.  According to the practice, there was no evidence of any data exfiltration, but we’ve all seen cases where entities did not detect that data had, in fact, been exfiltrated, so that assurance cannot be relied upon with high confidence at this point.  Time will tell.

Manitoba, Canada: Altona Clinic

Pembina Valley reports that  Altona Clinic was the victim of a ransomware attack last Friday (February 26).

At this time, clinic official cannot confirm whether patient information has been compromised, but two separate IT specialists have advised, based on a number of factors, this is unlikely, and the purpose of the attack was most likely to lock the information rather than to access the patient records.

What were those factors? Given how common the double extortion model has become, why would this attack not also exfiltrate data in the hopes of extorting the clinic to pay to keep patient data off the internet?

Clinic officials report information on visits that occurred on Thursday, February 25th was lost as a result of the attack, and they are asking patients who had visits scheduled for that day to call the clinic and book a return appointment.

Now that is another kind of harm– having to come back because your doctor’s notes on your visit were destroyed or locked up.

There is nothing on the clinic’s web site as of the time of this publication. You can read Pembina Valley’s coverage here.


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