Chinese hackers steal data from 4.5 million hospital patients

Chinese hackers steal data from 4.5 million hospital patients

Summary: Community Health Systems, a US chain of more than 200 hospitals, said patient information such as names, addresses and social security numbers were stolen in the attack.

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TOPICS: Security
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The US hospital network Community Health Systems confirmed in an SEC regulatory filing Monday that its computer network was the target of an external, criminal cyberattack.

The breach, which is believed to have originated from a Chinese hacker ring, resulted in stolen personal data from nearly 4.5 million patients who were treated within the hospital chain over the last five years.

In the filing, the hospital company said the attacker was an Advanced Persistant Threat group using highly sophisticated malware to gain entry into its computer network. 

The attacker copied and transferred non-medical patient identification data that is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, such as patient names, addresses, birthdates, telephone numbers and social security numbers.

Community Health Systems stressed that no patient credit card data was stolen, nor were any clinical or medical records. The attackers also failed to retrieve any sensitive intellectual property data, which is what the hospital company said this particular hacker ring typically goes after.

Since learning of the attack, the hospital chain said it's been working both with federal law enforcement authorities and the forensic security company Mandiant, with the latter helping the company work through remediation efforts and eradicate the malware from its system. 

The healthcare industry has frequently been criticized for poor security practices in recent months. In April, the FBI issued a warning to healthcare providers regarding potential security weaknesses, and several security reports have highlighted the same threats.

According to a recent report from BitSight Technologies, healthcare and pharmaceutical companies have the lowest security performances when compared to the finance, utility and retail sectors. Given the lasting repercussions from Target's security debacle, that's saying something. 

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13 comments
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  • Hopefully...

    ...none of them are Chinese expats and none engage in activities frowned upon by the Chinese authorities (like practicing Falun Gong).

    It is possible that the perpetrators are part of a criminal gang and intend only to use the data for the usual criminal purposes, but that cannot be assumed.
    John L. Ries
  • Ha ha!

    This is hilarious! The world wants to shove digital technology down our throats? Let the world choke on it. Ha, ha!

    The masses tolerate it, the masses deserve it.

    I will be laughing for a week when hackers break into the Obamacare system servers.
    JelloBeyonce
    • Not wise to laugh at other people's calamities

      You might be next.
      John L. Ries
    • Obamacare runs on Linux.

      From my perspective, only Microsoft gets hacked, otherwise, MS would be used on the US Navy Nuclear submarine fleet (They use Red Had Linux) or the 8 new Westinghouse AP-1000 Nuclear Power Plants being built in the US and China. (They use SUSE Enterprise Linux).

      Major security break announcements are rather secretive, but as time reveals, Windows can be guaranteed to be the compromised OS.

      In the case with Google, two employees were storing company work information on a Windows laptop. After the information was stolen (due to zero day and malicious emails on Windows), Google forbids employees to use Microsoft for company work.
      Joe.Smetona
      • Any OS can get hacked.

        It isn't an MS-exclusive problem.

        I'm not sure what you mean by "malicious emails" (phishing attempts?), but every OS has zero day bugs.
        ForeverCookie
        • yes.... But it seems the ones for Windows keep working...

          Even after being patched several times...
          jessepollard
        • With all due respect,

          You probably never used Linux.

          Malware = Windows.

          Health network reports 4.5 million patients had information hacked.

          Another good reason to use Linux for your business. As in all the major data theft hacks, they used Windows.

          http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2014/08/18/community-health-systems-hack-attack-45-million/14226421/

          "The company's forensic computer experts at Mandiant said the Chinese hacking group "was able to bypass the company's security measures and successfully copy and transfer certain data outside the Company."

          To check what sites are running, use the netcraft.toolbar.

          Here's the scoop on chs.com, the hacked healthcare company.
          http://toolbar.netcraft.com/site_report/?url=chs.net
          Joe.Smetona
          • When there is a problem with Linux,

            ...the admins sorted the server passoword on a Windows computer that was easily hacked by a zer day exploit or a malicious email.

            Googe forbids company employees from storing company data or work on Microsoft computers.
            Joe.Smetona
          • Ya

            Google forbids. Woopie. The same would happen for other companies. Can you name five companies that prevent users to do so?
            Gisabun
          • So....

            What does malware got to do with this hacking story?
            Those that open malware are generally clueless when it comes to computers.
            If Linux had 90% of the market, you don't think that malware writers would be aiming their crap at Linux users? They go after the largest users group [which makes sense].
            Part of the problem is not with Windows itself but with something called firewalls. Ever heard of it. It is the [usually] hardware that is placed on the perimeter of the network to block unwanted traffic.
            [So take your anti-Windows thoughts and ....]
            Gisabun
  • What happened to the use of the word "alleged"

    People read the news and see all type of crimes - some people know they did it - some were there to see it, yet they still use the word "alleged" or "suspected"- many times I wished they never did, because someone saw it happen.

    China is the world leader in free anonymous proxy servers - how do you know without watching them do it - what about al-Qaeda or people in this country - what about the middle east or just anywhere - you really do not know until you saw them with your own eyes do it - sure I could doubt, or trust you fully with out one bit of concern for the facts. I read my news articles about people who used proxies to hide yet were caught being somewhere else.

    The Psychopath is not a saint - propaganda is the main tool and stated to be only 1% of the worlds population, a word meant to take the place of diabolical - Satan, Lucifer, and etc. The proof is being caught with the evidence.
    troubled241
  • The Chinese Government uses Linux for it's extremely high security.

    They don't want to get hacked. In that respect they are a lot smarter than US Microsoft users.

    "Kylin Linux"

    "With the advent of version 3.0, Kylin has used the Linux kernel."

    "In December 2010, it was announced that China Standard Software and the National University of Defense Technology had signed a strategic partnership to launch a version called NeoKylin. China Standard Software is the maker of the "NeoShine Linux" desktop series. NeoKylin is intended for use by government offices, national defense, energy and other sectors of the Chinese economy.

    The operating system of the Tianhe-1 supercomputer is 64-bit Kylin Linux, which is oriented to high-performance parallel computing optimization, and supports power management and high-performance virtual computing zone. The newer Tianhe-2 also uses Kylin Linux.

    --Wikipedia.org
    Joe.Smetona
  • Who's to blame?

    If hackers got into a network and grabbed data, it is NOT an OS problem [primarily] but a firewall problem. That is the first line of defense in any network.
    As for what the Chinese would want with patient records, except to sell the personal data off or use for ID theft, not much.
    Gisabun