It's an accepted fact that Chinese hackers target intellectual property, military secrets and industrial espionage. But now the likely state-sponsored Chinese hacking efforts have turned to personal medical records.
Community Health Systems Professional Services Corporation (“CHSPSC”) issued a data breach notification on August 19, 2014. With 206 hospitals in 26 states, Community Health Systems is one of the largest hospital organizations in the US. According to a press release, the hospital system believes the hacker in the unprecedented breach was a group originating from China and who used highly sophisticated malware technology to attack hospital records. The intruder was able to bypass the company’s security measures and successfully copy and transfer some data existing on CHSPSC’s systems.
Reports from external sources place the number who lost data at 4.5 million patients. The hospital system says to the best of its knowledge, no credit card information and no medical or clinical information was taken. However, certain personal information such as name, address, birthdates, social security numbers and in some instances phone and names of employers or responsible parties were likely taken.
Since first discovering the hack in July, CHSPSC has worked closely with federal law enforcement authorities in connection with their investigation. CHSPSC also engaged an outside forensic expert to conduct a thorough investigation and suggest remediation steps for the incident. CHSPSC has also implemented efforts designed to protect against future intrusions. These efforts include implementing additional audit and surveillance technology to detect unauthorized intrusions, adopting advanced encryption technologies, and requiring users to change their access passwords.
The hospital company plans to offer identity theft protection to the 4.5 million victims of the data breach. If the Chinese don't make any money from the data theft, at least a group of US identity theft and credit reporting agencies stand to rake in a considerable amount of cash. So -- you see, every dark cloud really does have a silver lining!