Hackers steal data on 4.5 million US hospital patients

Community Health Systems says the breach occurred in April and June

A major U.S. hospital operator says hackers based in China broke into its computer systems and stole data on 4.5 million patients.

Community Health Systems said the attack occurred in April and June of this year, but it wasn't until July that it determined the theft had taken place.

Working with a computer security company, it determined the attack was carried out by a group based in China that used "highly sophisticated malware" to attack its systems. It didn't release specific details of the attack.

"The attacker was able to bypass the company's security measures and successfully copy and transfer certain data outside the company," it said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The group is apparently known to U.S. federal law enforcement authorities, which are now involved in the case. But the identity of the group was not disclosed.

The hackers got away with patient names, addresses, birthdates, telephone numbers and Social Security numbers of the 4.5 million people who were referred to or received services from doctors affiliated with the company in the last five years. The stolen data did not include patient credit card, medical or clinical information.

Community Health Systems, based in Franklin, Tennessee, is one of the largest hospital operators in the U.S. with 206 hospitals in 29 states from New York across the South to the Pacific coast.

The attack ranks as the second largest disclosed attack to hit the U.S. medical industry in the last few years, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.

The only one that was bigger involved data on 4.9 million military clinic and hospital patients stolen from Science Applications International Disclosed in 2011, the loss happened when data backup tapes containing records from 1992 through September 2011 were lost.

A second incident that comes close was the theft of a personal computer from Advocate Medical Group in a 2013 burglary that contained information on around 4 million patients.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags securitydata breachindustry verticalshealth careCommunity Health Systems

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?