Southern Hills Eye Care impacted by a Ransomware Attack
Located in the Sioux City, Iowa, Southern Hills Eye Care experienced one security incident which might have resulted in exposure of personal and protected health information of some patients. On Jan. 15, 2019, a ransomware attack takes place and has affected a server at eye care provider's office in Sioux City. The ransomware has been installed on the server, and then the files were encrypted.
An investigation has been launched to find whether any type of patient data got impacted. It has been confirmed by forensic investigators that one unauthorized person gained access to a server at eye care provider's office, and might have viewed the files containing PHI (Protected Health Information) of patients. The files contain various types of data like: names, dates of birth, addresses, telephone numbers, health insurance details, and health data. In some cases, Southern Hills Medicare patients' Social Security numbers were also impacted.
Although there was a possibility that data has been accessed, but no proof was found which will suggest that unauthorized third-party has actually accessed or viewed any type of patient information. Also, there was no evidence that patient information has been misused.
In their website, Southern Hills Eye Care mentioned that "we take the privacy and security of patient information very seriously and have taken steps to prevent a similar event from occurring in the future". Extra security controls were already implemented by the Iowa-based eye care provider to avoid similar kind of breaches in future.
Southern Hills Eye Care also mentioned in their website that "we have taken steps to notify anyone who may have been affected by this incident". Notifications letters were sent to the affected patients on Mar. 15, 2019. More than 11,600 patients are getting notified by the Iowa-based eye care provider that their data has been potentially breached in a ransomware attack on January.
The notification letters contain additional information about the ransomware attack, along with a toll-free number by which the patients can know more about this incident. It was also mentioned in the website of eye care provider that "the call center can be reached at 855-255-4839 and is available Monday through Friday between 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM Pacific".
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