New Jersey IVF Clinic Hack Sees PHI of 14,000 Patients Potentially Compromised

A third-party server hosting the electronic health record database of the New Jersey Diamond Institute for Infertility and Menopause has been hacked and access gained by an unauthorized individual.

The Diamond Institute says its database and EHR system was encrypted, so the attackers were unable to access patient health records, although many unencrypted supporting documents were also stored on the server and may have been accessed.

It is unclear when the attack took place, although the Diamond Institute learned of the cyberattack on February 27, 2017. A full investigation was rapidly initiated and steps taken to secure the server to prevent further unauthorized activity.

The investigation involved checking all documents to determine the patients impacted and the types of data that could potentially have been viewed or copied. The documents were found to contain a limited amount of protected health information relating to more than 14,000 patients. Those data included patients’ names, addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers, sonograms and lab test results.

The breach has prompted the Diamond Institute to perform a full password reset and update its firewall to prevent similar attacks from occurring in the future. Virtual network credentials have also been changed and all unused open ports have now been closed.

The investigation did not uncover any evidence to suggest that information contained in the documents has been misused as a result of the incident, although patients have been provided with resources to protect their identities and prevent future fraudulent uses of their data.

Since highly sensitive protected health information has potentially been accessed and copied by the attackers, out of an abundance of caution, all patients affected by the security breach are being offered credit monitoring and identity theft restoration services for 12 months without charge.

The breach report submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights shows 14,633 individuals have been impacted by the incident.

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.