WI: Manitowoc County data breach affected personal health, medical information

Alisa M. Shafer reports:

Manitowoc County officials have released more information about a data breach of a Manitowoc County email account in January.

The press release from June 22 states: “On or around January 14, 2018, an unauthorized party was able to gain access to a Manitowoc County email account most likely through what is called a ‘phishing’ attack.”

Read more on Herald Times Reporter.  The text of the full press release from the county is below. It does not indicate the number impacted.

Additional Information Regarding Data Breach
June 22, 2018

Manitowoc County takes very seriously our duty to protect the personal information of those individuals we provide services to. This notification provides additional information regarding a situation we experienced that may have exposed personal information of individuals we provide services to to third parties and the steps we are taking to address the situation.


On or around January 14, 2018 an unauthorized third party was able to gain access to one Manitowoc County email account most likely through what is called a “phishing” attack. This email phishing attack allowed an unauthorized third party to direct emails to an email account not operated by Manitowoc County. Some of those emails included personal information of individuals we have provided services to. We became aware of this attack on April 24, 2018 and took action right away.

Immediately after becoming aware of the incident, Manitowoc County’s Information Systems Department secured our information technology system so that the unauthorized party no longer had access. We also obtained legal counsel, began a review of the disclosure, and contacted forensics experts to determine what information had been disclosed.


The information that was disclosed was protected health information, which may have included: first name, last name, address, date of birth, phone number, email address, health insurance information, diagnoses, prescription information, client identification number, or other information related to your treatment.

At this point, we are not aware of any misuse of the personal information that was disclosed. However, we wanted to provide notification of this breach and an explanation steps we have taken to address the situation, as well as what steps can be taken to further protect personal information.


We took action to investigate the incident once it was discovered, and promptly engaged legal and forensics experts to assist in the investigation. Manitowoc County is also assessing further options to enhance our controls and make additional investments in protocols, technology, and training to make sure a similar issue does not occur in the future. Manitowoc County sent individual notices to all affected individuals for whom we had updated contact information on file. This additional notice is being provided in order to notify those individuals for whom we did not have updated contact information.


We recommend that individuals be alert for “phishing” scams going forward. The scams take various forms and are often designed to appear as if they are from Manitowoc County or another legitimate entity. Manitowoc County will not email or call individuals regarding this incident to ask for personal information. We also suggest that individuals are cautious in opening emails, clicking on links, or giving personal information over the phone to anyone claiming to be from Manitowoc County.

On behalf of Manitowoc County, we deeply apologize for any concern this situation has caused. For further information and assistance, please contact the Manitowoc County Corporation Counsel, Peter Conrad, at (888) 811-5636 between 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. CT.

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