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Ransomware attack on Sarrell Dental possibly impacted 391,472 patients


Alabama-based Sarrell Dental, a not-for-profit Children's dental as well as optical services provider, has suffered from a ransomware attack due to which the PHI (Protected Health Information) of their patients might have been compromised.


The Sarrell Dental is largest dental services provider in the Alabama state. 17 clinics were operated by Sarrell Dental in the Alabama state. Ransomware has been deployed on Sarrell Dental's network in Jul. 2019, which has led to widespread file encryption. Once the ransomware attack was discovered, the network has been deactivated and the investigation has been launched. The clinics which were affected remain closed for 2 weeks, while this breach was getting investigated and the systems were restored.


Sarrell Dental has received a ransom demand, but that was not paid. The patient information has been restored from the backups.


An outside computer forensics team has been engaged for assisting in the investigation, in order to determine extent of this breach. The investigation has revealed that attackers might have first-time gained access to the systems of Sarrell Dental as early as Jan. 2019. No evidence has been found to suggest the patient information was copied or accessed by the attackers, however the possibility cannot be ruled out. Till date, no reports were received that will suggest any kind of patient information was misused.


Parts of the system which were possibly accessed by attackers contain PHI such as names, birth dates, addresses, Social Security numbers, treatment information, health insurance information, dates of service, procedure codes, diagnosis codes, and name of treating dentist.


This incident has been reported to the law enforcement, whereas Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights (OCR) was also notified. The breach report of OCR indicates that 391,472 patients possibly had their Protected Health Information exposed.


After the ransomware attack, Sarrell Dental has implemented more security controls in order to prevent the future attacks. In addition, the network as well as the system monitoring capabilities has been enhanced.


The notification letters have been sent to the affected patients on Sep. 12, 2019. The affected individuals were offered identity theft protection and credit monitoring services for 1 year at no cost.


» SPAMfighter News - 10/21/2019

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