Kaiser Permanente, which is the largest nonprofit health plan provider in the United States, has disclosed a data breach that exposed the health information of almost 70,000 patients.
In a notice to patients on June 3, Kaiser revealed that someone managed to get access to an employee’s emails at the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington on April 5 that contained health information — including patient names, dates of service, medical record numbers and lab test results. Financially sensitive information was not exposed by the breach, according to the healthcare provider.
Thanks to the filing with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services we know that 69,589 individuals were affected.
“We terminated the unauthorized access within hours after it began and promptly commenced an investigation to determine the scope of the incident,” Kaiser said in its notice to patients. “We have determined that protected health information was contained in the emails and, while we have no indication that the information was accessed by the unauthorized party, we are unable to completely rule out the possibility.”
In the same notice, Kaiser said that the hacked employee “received additional training in safe email practices,” suggesting the breach may have been the result of a phishing attack. Furthermore, the organization said it is exploring other steps to take to “ensure incidents like this do not happen in the future.”
What is unclear is why it took Kaiser almost two months to inform patients affected by the breach.
Alas, Kaiser Permanente is by no means the only healthcare provider to be targeted by hackers. Back in 2015, health insurance giant Anthem revealed the theft of 78.8 million records. More recently, in March of this year – digital health startup myNurse suffered a data breach that saw malicious third-party accessing protected health data. This further led to the shutdown of the company in May.
Now you may be wondering what you can do to protect your health data? In this case, your hands are tied as your data is on the servers of your healthcare provider. You can, however, be careful what you’re doing on the Internet. And that’s where a tool like VPN could help, encrypting all traffic coming to and from your devices — cause it can work on your computer as well as your smartphone, tablet, and some other devices.
We think everyone should be using a VPN these days, cause as this latest news from Kaiser Permanente shows us – that’s just the world we live in. So make sure to get yourself the best protection the money could buy. Hop over to our page with Best of the Best VPNs and take it from there. You can always thank us later.