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.

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
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
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
Mobile Banking Malware Up 50% in First Half of 2019
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/17/2020
Exploits Released for As-Yet Unpatched Critical Citrix Flaw
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  1/13/2020
Microsoft to Officially End Support for Windows 7, Server 2008
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/13/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-7227
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
Westermo MRD-315 1.7.3 and 1.7.4 devices have an information disclosure vulnerability that allows an authenticated remote attacker to retrieve the source code of different functions of the web application via requests that lack certain mandatory parameters. This affects ifaces-diag.asp, system.asp, ...
CVE-2019-15625
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A memory usage vulnerability exists in Trend Micro Password Manager 3.8 that could allow an attacker with access and permissions to the victim's memory processes to extract sensitive information.
CVE-2019-19696
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A RootCA vulnerability found in Trend Micro Password Manager for Windows and macOS exists where the localhost.key of RootCA.crt might be improperly accessed by an unauthorized party and could be used to create malicious self-signed SSL certificates, allowing an attacker to misdirect a user to phishi...
CVE-2019-19697
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
An arbitrary code execution vulnerability exists in the Trend Micro Security 2019 (v15) consumer family of products which could allow an attacker to gain elevated privileges and tamper with protected services by disabling or otherwise preventing them to start. An attacker must already have administr...
CVE-2019-20357
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A Persistent Arbitrary Code Execution vulnerability exists in the Trend Micro Security 2020 (v160 and 2019 (v15) consumer familiy of products which could potentially allow an attacker the ability to create a malicious program to escalate privileges and attain persistence on a vulnerable system.