Advertisment

Data Breach at Seattle Cancer Center: Patient Information Under Threat

author-image
Medriva Correspondents
New Update
NULL

Data Breach at Seattle Cancer Center: Patient Information Under Threat

Advertisment

Recent Data Breach at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center

Advertisment

A significant data breach was reported at Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center on November 19th, impacting the clinical network and potentially compromising the data of over 800,000 patients. The breach led to some patients receiving threatening emails, with demands for ransom in exchange for not leaking the stolen data.

Details of the Data Breach

The data breach affected a portion of the healthcare system's clinical network. Compromised data includes names, social security numbers, and medical history of patients. The cybercriminals involved in this unauthorized activity are reportedly based outside the United States. The center has since taken its clinical network offline and engaged a leading forensic security firm to investigate and contain the incident. The center has also notified federal law enforcement about the breach.

Advertisment

Threatening Emails and Ransom Demands

In a disturbing turn of events, patients have received emails threatening the leak of their personal information unless a ransom is paid. The emails reference the November data breach and demand $50 to remove the data from the dark web. However, patients are firmly advised not to pay any ransom demands and to report these messages to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Impact on UW Medicine Patients

Advertisment

The breach has also impacted data for some UW Medicine patients. However, it's important to note that the university-based system itself has not been compromised. The patient care at both the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and UW Medicine remains uninterrupted.

Measures Taken and Ongoing Investigation

While the extent to which patient information was obtained is still being assessed, the center has taken proactive steps to secure the compromised clinical network. A dedicated call center has been established to support patients during this time. Meanwhile, the investigation is ongoing, with the center's associate vice president of communications confirming that they are working closely with federal law enforcement and cybersecurity experts.

Advertisment

Advice to Patients

Patients are urged to monitor their bank statements and credit reports closely and report any suspicious activity immediately to the FBI. Additionally, they are advised to block senders and delete any threatening calls or emails. If there are any signs of fraudulent activity or suspected incidents of identity theft, these should be reported to the appropriate law enforcement authorities, including local police and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC also provides useful tips on fraud alerts, security/credit freezes, and steps to avoid identity theft.

Increasing Cybersecurity Risks in Healthcare

This incident serves as a stark reminder of the growing cybersecurity threats facing the healthcare industry, especially as health systems merge and combine legacy systems. It is crucial for healthcare providers to continually update and reinforce their cybersecurity measures to protect patient data and maintain trust.

Advertisment
Chat with Dr. Medriva !