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A group claiming allegiance to a far-right Ukrainian political party appears to have hacked the Central Ohio Urology Group’s patient information database.
The Twitter page of a group that identifies with Pravy Sektor, or Right Sector, was used Tuesday to post links to and a screen shot of patient data purported to be from the files of the Central Ohio Urology Group. The group, based in Gahanna, has 24 offices in the region. Also posted was a Google Drive link to massive file data.
The Central Ohio Urology Group declined to discuss the hack on Tuesday, other than to say it is investigating.
“I can say nothing on the record at the present time,” said a man who identified himself as the group’s chief information officer but declined to give his name. “We’re investigating to the fullest of our abilities.”
The extent of the hack, the information involved and the veracity of the information have not been determined. In a screen shot of the alleged hack on the group’s Twitter page, about two dozen patient names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance providers and other information can be seen in a database file.
Two men listed on the screen shot, reached by phone, verified that they were patients of the group and that the information on the screen shot of the database was accurate for the time that they were patients. Neither of the men knew that his information had been published on Twitter, or that the urology group may have been hacked.
The nature of the hacker, a foreign political group, might point to something other than fraud as motivation, said Columbus-based online-security expert C. Matthew Curtin, founder of Interhack Corp.
“If it is someone looking for attention, (health care information) is something that gives people heartburn,” Curtin said. “If you want to get attention, it is one of the most effective things you can do.
“If you break into a shoe store and you get everyone’s shoe sizes, nobody cares.”
Curtin felt that the hack was to draw eyeballs to the Twitter feed, which features posts about a “Secret Letter about conducted bacteriological tests in Ukraine” and several other links to data hacks, Russian intrigue and other political issues. The enormous data file might be useful to someone looking to commit fraud, but that is likely a secondary motivation in this case, Curtain said.
“The target is really the media,” Curtin said. “You’re going for eyeballs. Terrorists didn’t start hijacking airplanes in the 1970s because they wanted airplanes. They wanted attention.”
Why hack a small medical group? It’s an easy mark, Curtin said.
“Big organizations have huge security teams,” Curtain said. “But small offices don’t have the money to pay big-time security people.”
As for what to do if some of your data is on the files, keep monitoring your credit reports and bank accounts. It was unclear from the information available if the data leak included items like Social Security Numbers, credit card or other payment data. Curtain recommends that patients of the urology group try to find out what information of theirs has been leaked.
“Look at what kind of information there is. You should see what it is,” he said. “If it is out there already, there is no un-ringing the bell.”