Two more ransomware attacks on medical entities impact 56,000 patients in Florida and Texas
DataBreaches.net notes two more ransomware attacks on U.S. medical entities. Neither of the incidents below, which impact approximately 56,000 patients in Florida and Texas, have appeared on any dedicated leak site affiliated with ransomware groups or markets – at least not as of the time of this publication. And neither incident has as yet shown up on HHS’s public breach tool.
Directions for Living
Directions for Living (DFL) in Florida experienced a ransomware attack on July 5 that they discovered on July 17. In a notification to the Maine Attorney General’s Office by their external counsel, they write that investigation determined that that an unauthorized third party had gained access to its systems “via a firewall vulnerability” and encrypted some of its systems.
DFL began notifying 19,494 patients that the unauthorized individual was able to obtain PHI that might include the patients:
first and last names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers, diagnostic codes used for billing purposes, claims and insurance information, name of health care provider, date of health care services, and certain other health information, but not any individual’s electronic health record (DFL’s electronic health record was never accessed or impacted by this event at any point).
As is often the case, the letter emphasizes that the entity has no indication of any misuse of the patients’ data.
A copy of the notification letter submitted to the state includes an offer of single-bureau credit monitoring. That offer does not seem to be mentioned on their web site notification, however.
Central Texas Medical Specialists PLLC dba Austin Cancer Centers
Austin Cancer Centers (ACC) experienced a ransomware attack on July 21 that was discovered on August 4, at which time they immediately shut down their systems and contacted law enforcement.
The forensic investigation found that the unauthorized user had reportedly used “sophisticated technology” to remain invisible in the system (many readers may be skeptical about the “sophisticated” claim as that term has been seriously overused to describe what have become fairly common occurrences).
“Due to security reasons, it took 14 days to identify, uncover and
release the information,” ACC writes. It also reportedly required the technology systems within the Austin Cancer Centers to remain shut down.
“During this time, we worked to manually maintain operations as best as possible, and to continue to support our patients with top notch treatment. We hope this did not create any inconveniences in your care,” they write.
Notifications were being sent this week to 36,503 patients. The notification explains that the types of PHI involved included:
first name, last name, address, date of birth, social security number, diagnosis, diagnosis code, current procedural terminology codes, insurance carrier name, condition, lab results, medication, or other related information. A very limited number of patients personally wrote down their credit card information and submitted via mail to our offices. These patients may have had their credit card information affected.
ACC is offering patients mitigation services through Equifax.
ACC actually first disclosed this incident on their web site on August 27 and continues to link prominently to their web site notice. The notification to Maine was made on September 15.