Data Breach Exposes Nearly 9 Million Patients’ Records

    The Incident Unfolds

    A recent cyberattack has compromised the highly sensitive health data of nearly four million patients at Northwell Health, New York State’s largest healthcare provider and employer. This breach also affects Cook County Health in Illinois, impacting about 1.2 million patients, and involves an additional four million patients at undisclosed locations.

    The severity of the Breach

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has marked this as one of the most severe medical data breaches in recent years.

    Breach Disclosure by PJ&A

    Perry Johnson & Associates (PJ&A), a Nevada-based transcription company, reported the breach. The breach began in March, but PJ&A delayed notifying the affected patients until September. Stolen data included patient names, addresses, birth dates, diagnoses, Social Security numbers, test results, and medications.

    Northwell Health’s Response

    Northwell Health confirmed that the breach did not affect its systems. However, PJ&A’s records relating to Northwell’s patients were among the files stolen. Northwell is unaware of any misuse of the stolen information but offers free identity theft services to all impacted patients as a precaution.

    Investigation and Mitigation

    The unauthorized access to PJ&A’s network occurred between March 27 and May 2. PJ&A has engaged a cybersecurity vendor to investigate, contain the threat, and enhance system security. They assured the breach did not extend to its customers’ systems or networks. So far, there’s no evidence of the stolen information being used for identity theft or fraud.

    Legal Consequences

    A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Northwell Health and PJ&A, highlighting the breach’s potential legal implications.

    Cybersecurity: A Priority for Healthcare

    This cyberattack underscores the importance of robust cybersecurity measures, particularly in sensitive sectors like healthcare.

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