48,000 Individuals Affected by Ransomware Attack on CarePointe ENT

The Merrillville, IN-based ear, nose, and throat specialist, CarePointe ENT, has announced it suffered a ransomware attack on June 25, 2021 which resulted in the encryption of files on its network. Some of the files encrypted in the attack are known to include the personal and protected health information of its patients.

It is common in ransomware attacks for sensitive data to be exfiltrated prior to the use of ransomware to encrypt files. The main purpose of data exfiltration is to pressure victims into paying the ransom. CarePointe said it believes the attack was conduced with the sole purpose of extorting money from the practice, not to steal patient data. No reports have been received which suggest any patient data have been misused as a result of the cyberattack, although after thoroughly investigating the attack it was not possible to rule out the possibility that patient data had been viewed by the attackers.

CarePointe said it has taken steps to reduce the likelihood of further cyberattacks, with the additional measures implemented including enhanced its threat detection capabilities and restricting remote access to its systems. Affected patients have been advised to obtain a free credit report and to check the report for signs of misuse of their personal and protected health information, and also to consider placing a fraud alert on their credit reports.

A review of the systems accessible to the attackers confirmed the following types of patient data may have been compromised: Name, address, date of birth, Social Security number (if provided to CarePointe), medical insurance information, and related health information.

The ransomware attack has been reported to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights as affecting up to 48,742 individuals.

Author: Steve Alder has many years of experience as a journalist, and comes from a background in market research. He is a specialist on legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA. Steve holds a B.Sc. from the University of Liverpool.