By Elise Viebeck - 08/18/14 10:30 AM EDT
A leading hospital operator said Chinese hackers stole the personal data of about 4.5 million patients earlier this year, according to a report.
Community Health Systems, which runs 206 hospitals in 29 states, said data thieves made off with patient names, addresses, Social Security numbers and other details.
Law enforcement had previously warned the U.S. healthcare sector that its systems were vulnerable to attacks seeking intellectual property and patient data. The theft follows several major data breaches at U.S. retailers including Target, Neiman Marcus and Michael's.
Community Health Systems reported the hack in a regulatory filing, saying it has expelled the hackers' malware from its network and will notify patients and government agencies as required by law.
The company did not explain why it believed the attack came from Chinese hackers except to say its security contractor, a unit of FireEye, agreed.
It is working with law enforcement to investigate, the report stated.