New Details On Area Hospitals Affected by Cyberhackers


By Evie Allen
By Randy Livingston

MARION -- New details out may give patients a little relief after the parent company of three area hospitals says it was hacked.

Two of the three hospitals released more details about who may be affected. Officials with Union County Hospital in Anna and Heartland Regional Medical Center in Marion say hospital patients were not affected by the data breach. But patients with their clinics and physician practices may have been. 

Community Health Systems is linked to 206 hospitals across the country, including Union County Hospital in Anna, Heartland Regional Medical Center and Crossroads Community Hospital in Mt. Vernon.

"The larger the organization and the more spread out the organization, is going to make it easier for somebody to breach," says IT expert James Mayer.

CHS officials say hackers gained access to patients' social security numbers, names, birthdays and other information. Hospital officials in Anna and Marion say hospital patients were not affected.

But data belonging to patients at certain clinics or practices affiliated with the hospitals may have been.  
"You're only as safe as the people that are doing the IT and the security work for you," says Mayer. 

Mayer is the founder of Mayer Networks, a full service IT company for businesses. He says even the most intelligent or well-trained IT person can run into problems because there's always someone smarter.

"Normally IT people, we're always playing catch up to hackers, and that's just the way that it's going to be forever. Hackers are finding vulnerabilities before even big name companies can even close them down," he says.  

CHS reportered in a filing confirmed that its computer network was the target of an external, criminal cyber attack that the Company believes occurred in April and June, 2014. They say the hackers were part of a group based out of China.

"It's very common that you find people from China, Russia, coming in and trying to hack certain industries," he adds.

He says it's hard to stay on the heels of hackers and believes no one is safe.

A letter is being sent out to those patients affected. CHS plans to offer them identity theft protection. 

"Sooner or later there will be no privacy on the internet period," says Mayer.

Union County hospital has released a statement with a list of clinics where patients may have been impacted.

Limited personal identification data belonging to some patients who were seen at the Union County Family Practice Clinic, Union County Podiatry Clinic, Union County General Surgery Clinic and Convenient Care Clinic over the past five years was transferred out of our organization in a criminal cyber-attack by a foreign-based intruder. The transferred information did not include any medical information or credit card information, but it did include names, addresses, birthdates, telephone numbers and social security numbers. Union County Hospital patients were not affected by the data breach.


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