TX: EmCare Says Patient and Employee Personal Data Were Hacked
Jim Silver and Hailey Waller report:
EmCare Inc. recently learned an unauthorized party obtained access to a number of employees’ email accounts that contained the personal information of as many as 60,000 individuals, 31,000 of which are patients, the company said in an email.
On Feb. 19, the physician-services provider determined the accounts contained some patients’, employees’ and contractors’ personal information, including name, date of birth or age, and for some patients, clinical information. In some instances, Social Security and driver’s license numbers were affected, according to a company statement.
Read more on Bloomberg.
Comment: The text of EmCare’s press release appears below. I’ve emailed them to ask a few questions, including when the breach occurred and when they first discovered that there had been an incident. I’ll update this post if I get a response. But it strikes me as somewhat absurd to provide false reassurances such as “There is no evidence to suggest that the information has been misused, or that anyone will attempt to misuse the information.” Well, maybe there’s no evidence that they’ve found that information has already been misused, but do they think attackers are just accessing or trying to access employee and patient data for the fun of it? If you can’t tell whether the data was exfiltrated – or even accessed – then perhaps you shouldn’t be so quick to issue any reassurances. This is one of those cases where it might be best to just say, “Despite our attempts to figure out what happened, we just don’t know, so take precautions.”
PLANTATION, Fla., April 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — EmCare, Inc. and its affiliates (EmCare) today announced that they are addressing a data security incident that involved the personal information of some patients, employees and contractors. EmCare has launched an internal investigation, notified individuals who may have been impacted and implemented additional security measures to prevent future occurrences.
EmCare recently became aware that an unauthorized third party obtained access to a number of EmCare employees’ email accounts. Upon learning of the incident, EmCare promptly launched a comprehensive investigation and obtained a leading forensic security firm to help determine the scope of the incident and those impacted. In addition, EmCare is taking measures to help prevent this type of incident from occurring in the future, including implementing advanced information technology (IT) solutions and providing all employees further training and reminders about email and IT security.
On Feb. 19, 2019, EmCare determined that the impacted email accounts contained some patients’, employees’ and contractors’ personal information, including name, date of birth or age, and for some patients, clinical information. In addition, in some instances, Social Security and driver’s license numbers were impacted.
There is no evidence to suggest that the information has been misused, or that anyone will attempt to misuse the information. In addition, EmCare is not aware of any individual who has been impacted by fraud or identity theft as a result and does not know if any personal information was actually obtained by an unauthorized party. For the subset of patients and employees whose Social Security or driver’s license numbers were impacted, EmCare has arranged for identity protection and credit monitoring services.
Beginning April 19, 2019, EmCare is sending written notification to all impacted individuals for whom it has contact information. If individuals did not receive written notification but have received care from a clinician employed by or engaged with EmCare and its affiliates or believe they could have been impacted, they can request information by calling the confidential inquiry line at 855.424.0467 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Eastern time Monday through Friday. Additional information is available on www.EmCare.com.
Individuals should refer to the notice they received in the mail to learn how they can protect themselves against potential fraud and identity theft. As a precautionary measure, individuals should remain vigilant about opening suspicious emails and reviewing their account statements and credit reports. If unauthorized activity is suspected, they should promptly notify the financial institution or company with which the account is maintained and report the activity to the proper law enforcement authorities, including the police and their state’s attorney general.
The Federal Trade Commission offers additional information on fraud alerts, security freezes and ways to avoid identity theft. These can be found by visiting www.ftc.gov/idtheft, calling 1.877.438.4338 or sending a letter to:
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
EmCare apologizes for any inconvenience or concern that this incident might cause. EmCare remains committed to providing patients the highest quality of care and working with healthcare partners to improve the health of communities.