Hospital data breach could affect 4.5 million patients - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Hospital data breach could affect 4.5 million patients

(Source: MGN Online) (Source: MGN Online)

Several Alabama hospitals are among a nationwide list of medical facilities whose patient information was targeted by cyber hackers. Community Health Systems, which operates 206 hospitals across the United States, and 11 in Alabama, says the hackers broke into its computers and stole data on 4.5 million patients who have visited their hospitals in the last 5 years.

Flowers Hospital in Dothan, L.V. Stabler Memorial Hospital in Greenville, and Medical Center Enterprise were all affected by the breach. The thefts include names, social security numbers, physical addresses, birthdays and telephone numbers, all pertinent data that can be used to steal someone's identity.

Patient credit card and medical/clinical information was not affected by the breach, CHS said.

"Though we have no reason to believe that this data would ever be used, all affected patients are being notified by letter and offered free identity theft protection," officials with Medical Center Enterprise said in a statement. That theft protection will be extended to affected patients at each targeted hospital, CHS said.

The company says it believes the attack happened in April and June of 2014. Its forensic expert believes the attacks originated in China using highly sophisticated malware and technology. The attack successfully bypassed security measures before initiating a copy and transfer of data to the hackers.

The company says it has worked closely with federal law enforcement to determine exactly who is responsible. CHS officials says federal investigators informed them that the intruder typically seeks valuable intellectual property, such as details on development data on medical devices, though that was not the target in this situation.

Eradication efforts of the malware were deployed after the attack was discovered, CHS officials say, and new applications are now in place to protect against future attacks.

CHS hospitals operate in 28 states but have their most significant presence in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas.

The company's 11 hospitals in Alabama include:

Cherokee Medical Center in Centre

Crestwood Medical Center in Huntsville (Affected)

DeKalb Regional Medical Center in Fort Payne

Flowers Hospital in Dothan (Affected)

Gadsden Regional Medical Center in Gadsden

L.V. Stabler Memorial Hospital in Greenville (Affected)

Medical Center Enterprise in Enterprise (Affected)

Riverview Regional Medical Center in Gadsden

South Baldwin Regional Medical Center in Foley

Stringfellow Memorial Hospital in Anniston

Trinity Medical Center of Birmingham (Not affected)

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