Risk

1/17/2012
11:50 AM
50%
50%

Patient Data Theft Sends IT Specialist To Jail

Atlanta man gets 13 months for hacking into former employer's computer database and stealing patient data for a competing medical practice.

12 Mobile Health Apps Worth A Closer Look
9 Mobile Health Apps Worth A Closer Look
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Eric McNeal, a 38-year-old information technology specialist from Atlanta, Ga., has been sentenced for hacking into the patient database of a former employer, stealing patient information, and then deleting the information from the system.

For his crime, McNeal was sentenced on Jan. 10 to serve 13 months in prison with three years of supervision after his release. McNeal also was ordered to perform 120 hours of community service.

"The circumstances of this case and resulting patient data breach is very common," and can happen in any size of practice, Rick Kam, president and co-founder of ID Experts told InformationWeek Healthcare. According to court documents, McNeal, who pleaded guilty to the charge on Sept. 28, worked as an information technology specialist for APA, a perinatal medical practice in Atlanta. He left APA in November 2009, and subsequently joined a competing perinatal medical practice, which was located in the same building as APA.

[ Explore docs' fascination with iPads. See Apple Capitalizes On Doctors' iPad Romance. ]

In April 2010, McNeal used his home computer to hack into APA's patient database; download the names, telephone numbers, and addresses of APA's patients; and then delete all the patient information from APA's system. McNeal used the patient names and contact information he stole to launch a direct-mail marketing campaign for his new employer. There is no evidence that McNeal downloaded or misused specific patient medical information.

Christine Marciano, president of Cyber Data Risk Managers, said medical facilities looking at this case should ask themselves how they can realistically protect against similar hacking attempts. "Having an exit strategy in place when an employee leaves or is terminated should be strictly enforced," Marciano told InformationWeek Healthcare. "The exit strategy needs to include cutting off the employee's access to all of the facility's databases in order to prevent unauthorized access."

Richard Santalesa, senior counsel at InfoLawGroup, said because McNeal pleaded guilty his sentence was reduced, and noted that McNeal could have received a five-year federal prison sentence for his crimes.

"Anyone who gives their personal information to a doctor or medical facility does not expect that their information will be hacked and used to make money," U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates, said in a statement. "The cost of medical care is already high enough without patients having to pay a heavier cost with the loss of their privacy."

When are emerging technologies ready for clinical use? In the new issue of InformationWeek Healthcare, find out how three promising innovations--personalized medicine, clinical analytics, and natural language processing--show the trade-offs. Download the issue now. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Bprince
50%
50%
Bprince,
User Rank: Ninja
1/18/2012 | 1:20:16 AM
re: Patient Data Theft Sends IT Specialist To Jail
Symantec recently released some interesting research about insider threats and the profile of employees who tend to go rogue that is good reading for organizations worried about this kind of breach.
http://www.symantec.com/connec...
Brian Prince, InformationWeek/Dark Reading Comment Moderator
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
Dark Reading Live EVENTS
INsecurity - For the Defenders of Enterprise Security
A Dark Reading Conference
While red team conferences focus primarily on new vulnerabilities and security researchers, INsecurity puts security execution, protection, and operations center stage. The primary speakers will be CISOs and leaders in security defense; the blue team will be the focus.
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: No, no, no! Have a Unix CRON do the pop-up reminders!
Current Issue
Security Vulnerabilities: The Next Wave
Just when you thought it was safe, researchers have unveiled a new round of IT security flaws. Is your enterprise ready?
Flash Poll
[Strategic Security Report] How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Problem
[Strategic Security Report] How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Problem
Enterprises are spending more of their IT budgets on cybersecurity technology. How do your organization's security plans and strategies compare to what others are doing? Here's an in-depth look.
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-0290
Published: 2017-05-09
NScript in mpengine in Microsoft Malware Protection Engine with Engine Version before 1.1.13704.0, as used in Windows Defender and other products, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (type confusion and application crash) via crafted JavaScript code within ...

CVE-2016-10369
Published: 2017-05-08
unixsocket.c in lxterminal through 0.3.0 insecurely uses /tmp for a socket file, allowing a local user to cause a denial of service (preventing terminal launch), or possibly have other impact (bypassing terminal access control).

CVE-2016-8202
Published: 2017-05-08
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Brocade Fibre Channel SAN products running Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) releases earlier than v7.4.1d and v8.0.1b could allow an authenticated attacker to elevate the privileges of user accounts accessing the system via command line interface. With affected version...

CVE-2016-8209
Published: 2017-05-08
Improper checks for unusual or exceptional conditions in Brocade NetIron 05.8.00 and later releases up to and including 06.1.00, when the Management Module is continuously scanned on port 22, may allow attackers to cause a denial of service (crash and reload) of the management module.

CVE-2017-0890
Published: 2017-05-08
Nextcloud Server before 11.0.3 is vulnerable to an inadequate escaping leading to a XSS vulnerability in the search module. To be exploitable a user has to write or paste malicious content into the search dialogue.