Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

8/27/2013
02:21 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

4 Million Patients At Risk After Computer Theft From Chicago Medical Group

Unencrypted Social Security numbers, names, addresses, health insurance information potentially exposed in major HIPAA violation

Thieves broke into an office of the largest health system in Illinois last month and stole four unencrypted computers that contained personal information -- including Social Security numbers and health insurance information -- of 4.03 million patients. An administrative office of Advocate Medical Group was burglarized, according to the health care organization, and a criminal investigation is under way.

The break-in occurred at an Advocate Medical Group administrative office in Park Ridge on July 15; the stolen computers included the names, addresses, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers of patients, as well as some clinical data, including their physicians, diagnoses, medical record numbers, medical service codes, and health insurance data. Advocate Medical Group says no patient medical records were stored on the stolen machines.

"The most important thing is that this issue has no impact on patient care," said Kevin McCune, M.D., chief medical officer at Advocate Medical Group. "Security is a top priority for our health care ministry. Nothing leads us to believe that the computers were taken for the information they contained or that any patient information has been used inappropriately."

The incident marks one of the biggest health care breaches yet with the number of patients whose information has been exposed, according to Bill Barr, a development coordinator with the newly formed Medical Identity Theft Alliance (MIFA) and co-founder of the Smart Card Forum.

"It appears that it was just some computers behind locked doors that were [reportedly] password-protected. That's not the strongest security people should be [employing]," Barr says.

Even more chilling is that the thieves now have a treasure trove of medical identification that could be rolled into medical ID theft "kitz" sold in underground forums, according to Barr. "They've got all of the information they need ... to put together 4 million kitz," he says. "To me, that's a very serious situation."

These medical ID kitz typically include bank account credentials, Social Security numbers, health insurance credentials, and phony driver's licenses or other IDs, and sell for $1,200 to $1,300, according to Dell SecureWorks, which recently uncovered some of these scams.

Advocate Medical Group has notified patients whose data was stored on the stolen machines, and is offering free credit monitoring and ID theft protection. The organization also is beefing up physical security at the burglarized location, with round-the-clock security, and considering doing the same at other locations. "We have reinforced our security protocols and encryption program with associates," the company said in its disclosure notice about the breach.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
gev
50%
50%
gev,
User Rank: Moderator
9/25/2013 | 1:04:05 PM
re: 4 Million Patients At Risk After Computer Theft From Chicago Medical Group
What were 4 million records doing on a local computer?
Lachesis
50%
50%
Lachesis,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/10/2013 | 2:02:15 AM
re: 4 Million Patients At Risk After Computer Theft From Chicago Medical Group
Outraged, offended by Dr. McCune's statement: 1)"The most important thing is that this issue has no impact on patient care," said Kevin McCune, M.D., chief medical officer at Advocate Medical Group. 2)"Security is a top priority for our health care ministry. Nothing leads us to believe that the computers were taken for the information they contained or that any patient information has been used inappropriately."

Numbers added are mine.

1) Maybe not for him. Ask a patient or three. Don't remember the studies, sample sizes, a large percentage of patient charts have incorrect information, in addition to the private and sensitive.

2) Obviously not, res ipsa loquitur.
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 9/21/2020
Hacking Yourself: Marie Moe and Pacemaker Security
Gary McGraw Ph.D., Co-founder Berryville Institute of Machine Learning,  9/21/2020
Startup Aims to Map and Track All the IT and Security Things
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  9/22/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-13991
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-24
vm/opcodes.c in JerryScript 2.2.0 allows attackers to hijack the flow of control by controlling a register.
CVE-2020-15160
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-24
PrestaShop from version 1.7.5.0 and before version 1.7.6.8 is vulnerable to a blind SQL Injection attack in the Catalog Product edition page with location parameter. The problem is fixed in 1.7.6.8
CVE-2020-15162
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-24
In PrestaShop from version 1.5.0.0 and before version 1.7.6.8, users are allowed to send compromised files. These attachments allowed people to input malicious JavaScript which triggered an XSS payload. The problem is fixed in version 1.7.6.8.
CVE-2020-15843
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-24
ActFax Version 7.10 Build 0335 (2020-05-25) is susceptible to a privilege escalation vulnerability due to insecure folder permissions on %PROGRAMFILES%\ActiveFax\Client\, %PROGRAMFILES%\ActiveFax\Install\ and %PROGRAMFILES%\ActiveFax\Terminal\. The folder permissions allow "Full Control" t...
CVE-2020-17365
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-24
Improper directory permissions in the Hotspot Shield VPN client software for Windows 10.3.0 and earlier may allow an authorized user to potentially enable escalation of privilege via local access. The vulnerability allows a local user to corrupt system files: a local user can create a specially craf...