PHI Exposed in Union Labor Life Insurance Phishing Attack

The Ullico Inc. subsidiary, Union Labor Life Insurance (ULLI), is notifying more than 87,000 plan members that some of their protected health information (PHI) has been exposed as a result of an employee responding to a phishing email.

As is often the case in healthcare phishing attacks, the phishing email was realistic and appeared to be a genuine request from a business partner. The email contained a hyperlink which asked for login credentials to be entered when clicked. The employee entered the credentials, which were harvested by the attacker and used to remotely access the account.

ULLI had systems in place which alerted the information technology department to the unauthorized access. The IT department blocked third-party access to the account within 90 minutes of the account being compromised on April 1, 2019 and disconnected the device from the network. The prompt action greatly limited the potential for the accessing or theft of protected health information contained in emails and email attachments.

ULLI conducted a forensic analysis and determined that access was limited to a single email account on one device. However, that email account was confirmed to contain the PHI of plan members in emails and email attachments.

While the investigation found no evidence to suggest patient information was accessed or stolen, the possibility could not be ruled out with a sufficiently high degree of certainty.

The protected health information that was potentially compromised was limited to: Names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and some personal health information of plan members and their family members.

As a precaution, ULLI has taken the decision to offer all affected individuals 24 months of complimentary credit monitoring and identity theft protection services.

According to the breach report submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, up to 87,400 patients have been affected by the breach.

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.