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Local medical group involved in computer hack identified

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Cybersecurity breach

The name of a local medical group purportedly hacked is now known.

The medical group which includes Midwest Imaging Center, LLC; Van Ness Orthopedic and Sports Medicine, Inc.; Mineral Area Pain Center, P.C.; Select Pain & Spine Dr. Christopher T. Sloan, D.P.M. sent letters to patients earlier this week stating a data breach was discovered.

“We write to inform you that our practice discovered a data breach on May 27, 2016 that may have contained personal health information and have been investigating the exact nature and scope of the information obtained by the hackers since,” the letter reads. “To date, our investigation has determined that on May 4, 2016, a hacker, or hackers, likely gained access into our secured database system through a third party contractor and may have obtained some personal information of our patients including: names, addresses, social security numbers, date of births, diagnoses, lab results, other medical records, and potentially some financial information."

The letter goes on to state the medical group has no knowledge of any misuse of the information, “we believe it is important to inform those who may be impacted by the breach and that they take precautions to protect themselves against possible misuse or identity theft.”

On June 25, a hacker going by the name “thedarkoverlord” provided information to Deep Dot Web of a purported hacking of three different healthcare organizations – one originating from Farmington and containing 48,000 alleged patient records, according to the Deep Dot Web report.

The other two, according to the report, are from the Central/Midwest United States and contain 210,000 alleged patient records with the third from the state of Georgia with records on 397,000 alleged patients.

The letter from the medical group states those who may be affected can contact the toll-free numbers of any of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit report. This can help prevent an identity thief from opening additional accounts in your name. As soon as the credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, the other two credit bureaus will automatically be notified to place alerts on your credit report, and all three bureaus will provide you a copy of your credit report free of charge.

The numbers are Equifax: 888-766-0008; Experian: 888-397-3742 and TransUnion: 800-680-7289.

Other important tips to remember if you suspect your information is to order a credit report. A free copy of a credit report is provided when a fraud alert is established. For more information, visit www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0275-place-fraud-alert.

It is important to continue to monitor credit reports as well even after a fraud alert is placed on an account.

“We are investigating how this breach happened by conducting internal and external security vulnerability checks and we are working closely with the FBI to determine the source of the hack,” the letter states. “We are committed to lessen the harm this may cause our patients by ensuring the security of our database system and working with the government and law enforcement officials to prevent the actual dissemination of their private health information.”

The medical group is taking necessary steps to prevent against such breaches in the future by changing passwords, revamping security policies as well as conducting a system-wide audits of data security practices to prevent any future or further breaches of the database.

“We apologize for any difficulties this situation may cause,” the letter says. “We are committed to keeping our patients information safe and we are doing everything possible to maintain their trust in our practice.”

Those concerned their privacy may be affected by this breach are asked to contact the medical group with any questions about this incident by email to mworesponse@gmail.com or by mail to Midwest Orthopedics Group, 606 Maple Valley Dr. in Farmington.

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