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Email Account Breach of Covenant Care impacted 7,858 Patients


Covenant Care, a network of skilled nursing and residential care facilities, in the Aliso Viejo city of California discovered that an unauthorized individual got access to an email account of one employee and possibly viewed or acquired PHI (Protected Health Information) of 7,858 patients.


Suspicious activity was noticed in the email account of an employee on Jan. 29, 2019. So to investigate, the third-party forensics experts were called in for determining the nature as well as scale of this breach. The investigation revealed that the email account got compromised on Jan. 22, 2019. Access to the email account was possible until it was secured by Covenant Care on January 29, 2019.


Review of compromised email account has been completed by the investigators on Feb. 13, 2019. The investigators confirmed that for the period (i.e. between Jan. 22, 2019, & Jan. 29, 2019) when the email account was accessible, emails as well as email attachments could have been opened by the unauthorized person. An analysis of email messages revealed that they contain patient information.


The information about each patient varies from person to person and might have included the full name, Social Security number, date of birth, medical record number, claim number of health insurance, diagnoses, name of provider(s), treatment location(s), Medicare billing amounts or details, Medicare covered days, admission as well as re-admission dates, discharge dates, dates of service, and also information related to the medical equipment, hospice services, home health services and outpatient services.


While issuing the notifications, no evidence was found to suggest any of the patient information was stolen or misused. Yet, as a precaution, the Covenant Care has notified patients who are affected by this breach; and have offered one year identity theft restoration and credit monitoring services without any charge. Covenant Care started sending notifications from March 6, 2019.


Covenant Care said that strict security safeguards were implemented, and more controls will be applied to increase the email security. Moreover, the Covenant Care is reviewing all administrative, physical and technical safeguards for determining any more areas where security improvements could be made. The employees will also be provided additional training on the email security as well as cyber security awareness.


» SPAMfighter News - 3/27/2019

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