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U.S. healthcare giant HCA Healthcare says about 11 million patients’ data may have had their data stolen after a posting on a known cybercrime forum claimed it was selling the data.
In a website notice, HCA confirmed that the data includes “information used for email messages, such as reminders that patients may wish to schedule an appointment and education on healthcare programs and services.”
HCA said the data includes patient names; address data, such as city, state, and ZIP code; patient email addresses; phone numbers; dates of birth; gender; and patient service dates, such as locations, and details about next appointments.
HCA said the breached data does not include clinical or financial information.
Its website notice says it has 180 hospitals and 2,300 sites across more than a dozen U.S. states. HCA is also a private healthcare provider for U.K. residents. HCA listed more than a thousand affected hospitals and facilities across 20 states on its page.
But how the data ended up breached and on a cybercrime forum remains a mystery.
DataBreaches.net first reported the seller’s forum post on July 5, in which the seller claimed to have 27 million rows of information. Some of the column headers in the stolen file include data that HCA says was stolen, such as names, gender and dates of birth.
According to the publication, the hacker contacted HCA on July 4. The hacker said the healthcare giant had “until the 10th” to meet its demands, but no demands were specified in the forum post.
HCA did not say when it first became aware of the data theft.
It’s also not clear how the data was taken. The hospital chain said the data theft was from “an external storage location exclusively used to automate the formatting of email messages.” It’s not clear if HCA, or one of its vendors, controls or maintains the external storage location. It’s also not known whether the external storage location was compromised by the hacker or inadvertently exposed by the organization.
HCA spokesperson Harlow Sumerford declined to comment.