Patients and staff at 11 hospitals in the United States had their personal information exposed after hackers published tens of thousands of records online. The files are from Leon Medical Centers, which manages eight facilities in Florida, and Nocona General Hospital, which has three units in Texas.
Compromised information includes patient names, addresses and birthdays, medical diagnoses and letters to insurers. A folder containing background checks on hospital staff was also exposed, according to NBC TV.
The unidentified hacker group is apparently well known to cybersecurity researchers and is probably in the double extortion ransomware business, through which data is stolen and posted to a dark web blog in an attempt to force payment of rescue.
It is not clear why so many records have been published in the first instance. Typically, these groups publish a small slice of what they have to prove that they have large volumes of data to be leaked if the victim company refuses to pay the ransom.
A lawyer at Nocona General Hospital told the American television network that the institution does not appear to have suffered a ransomware infection or received a ransom request.
Leon Medical Centers announced last month that it had been violated in November 2020, in an invasion that compromised patient names, contact information, Social Security numbers, financial information, dates of birth, family information, medical records, information prescription, history of diagnosis and treatment and health insurance information.
However, in a lawsuit with the United States Department of Health and Human Services, only 500 people were considered exposed.
Cyber attacks on healthcare institutions worldwide have increased by 45% in the last two months of 2020 compared to the previous two months, more than double the rate of those targeting other sectors, according to Check Point Software. Ransomware has seen the greatest overall increase and poses the greatest threat to healthcare institutions, says the cybersecurity solution provider.
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