UCLA Health System hack may affect 4.5 million patients

A cyberattack at the UCLA Health System has potentially affected as many as 4.5 million patients.

While the computer networks containing personal and medical records were infiltrated, UCLA Health said it does not think any of the data was taken.

{mosads}“We take this attack on our systems extremely seriously,” said Dr. James Atkinson, the interim associate vice chancellor and president of the UCLA hospital system. “We have taken significant steps to further protect data and strengthen our network against another cyber attack.”

The organization said it initially noticed “suspicious activity” on its network last October. A joint investigation with the FBI initially did not uncover any evidence that hackers had infiltrated the portions of the network that contained personal and medical information.

That changed on May 5, when investigators eventually realized the digital intruders had gotten into the database with names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, medical record numbers, Medicare or health plan ID numbers and some medical information.

The cyberattackers may have been in the database as far back as September, UCLA Health said. But the organization maintains that the sensitive data was not taken out of the network, although it “cannot conclusively rule out the possibility.”

Atkinson told the Los Angeles Times that the data was not encrypted.

The failure to encrypt data was a focal point of the recent catastrophic data breach at the Office of Personnel Management, which exposed over 22 million people’s sensitive data.

Health insurer Anthem also acknowledged that it had not encrypted its data after hackers made off with roughly 80 million people’s information.

Although officials in both instances have maintained that encryption would not have prevented the digital theft, lawmakers and security specialists have been flabbergasted that companies and government agencies are failing to take a basic precaution.

UCLA Health said it has not yet identified the origin of the attack.

“They are a highly sophisticated group likely to be offshore,” Atkinson told the Times. “We really don’t know. It’s an ongoing investigation.”


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