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Urgent Care Clinic of Oxford Notify Patients of Hacking Incident

Urgent Care Clinic of Oxford, MS has notified its patients that their protected health information may have been viewed by unauthorized individuals after malicious actors gained access to a computer server in July 2016.

The initial intrusion occurred in early July, but it took almost a month for the security breach to be discovered. The security breach was identified when staff noticed that the computer system was running more slowly than usual

The breach notification letter sent to patients explains that the hackers had access to a server for almost a month before access to patient data was prevented. Urgent Care Clinic of Oxford informed patients that “the hackers held the server to ransom before turning control back over to Urgent Car staff.”

This would suggest that the attackers encrypted data with ransomware and provided a security key when the ransom was paid, although no mention of the ransom demand being met is provided in the breach notification letters.

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After data access was regained, Urgent Care blocked remote access to the server, which had previously been enabled to allow technical support to be provided. It is unclear whether this was the entry point for the attackers, although since this was the only mitigation listed in the breach notification letter it appears likely.

A forensic analysis of the compromised server indicated the attack was conducted by foreign hackers, most likely operating out of Russia. Data stored on the server included names, social security numbers, birthdates, personal information, and health information.

While the forensic investigation was able to determine the probable country of origin of the hackers, it was unable to confirm which patients been affected. Presumably this was all patients whose information was stored on the server.

As a precaution against fraud, all patients have been offered complimentary credit monitoring services for a period of one year without charge.

Update 08/10/2016: The incident has now appeared on the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights Web Portal. 64,000 individuals have been affected.

Author: Steve Alder is the editor-in-chief of HIPAA Journal. Steve is responsible for editorial policy regarding the topics covered on HIPAA Journal. He is a specialist on healthcare industry legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA and other related legal topics. Steve has developed a deep understanding of regulatory issues surrounding the use of information technology in the healthcare industry and has written hundreds of articles on HIPAA-related topics.