Third-Party Ransomware Attack Compromises Data of 16,000 Redwood Eye Care Center Patients

Ransomware has struck again in the medical sector, this time affecting ophthalmology practice Redwood Eye Care Center in California through a security incident at a third party, its EMR hosting vendor. Personal data of as many as 16,055 California residents may have been exposed.

According to a breach notice sent by Redwood Eye Care Center to the Attorney General, IT Lighthouse, the vendor responsible for keeping the entire patient medical database on their servers, including names, addresses, medical treatment, health insurance details and dates of birth, fell victim to a ransomware attack in September. The residents affected were immediately notified of the privacy breach, and Redwood has switched vendors and taken the appropriate steps to strengthen security and ensure prevent future incidents.

“On September 20, 2018, Redwood learned that on September 19, 2018, the third-party vendor that hosts and stores Redwood’s electronic medical records experienced a data security incident which affected records pertaining to Redwood patients,” reads the notification. “Upon learning of the incident, Redwood worked with the third-party vendor to investigate the incident, which in turn consulted a digital forensic firm. Redwood also consulted with a specialized medical software vendor. Redwood’s investigation determined that the incident may have involved patient information, including patient names, addresses, dates of birth, health insurance information, and medical treatment information.”

The healthcare sector has actively been targeted by phishing and ransomware attacks, jeopardizing patient safety and privacy. Medical institutions and facilities are a preferred target for hackers because they are not properly equipped to fend off cyberattacks, they maintain a high volume of valuable data and are prone to third-party vulnerabilities due to the high number of vendors they work with.

Recent notable phishing breaches, for example, include the Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Western Regional Medical Center in Phoenix that affected 42,000 patients and Georgia Spine and Orthopedics of Atlanta that compromised the data of 7,000 patients.

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