Fort Myers-based 21st Century Oncology has revealed that it has begun warning 2.2 million patients about the possibility of their personal information being breached by a hacker(s) who broke into the company’s data base in October 2015.
The as-of-yet unidentified hackers were able to breach the database to access sensitive information that included names, SSNs, treatment details of patients, insurance information and even patients’ diagnosis.
Although the clinic informed the FBI of the breach in November 2015, the agency asked 21st Century Oncology to keep the incident under wraps and not reveal it until a thorough investigation was conclude.
According to the company, there is no evidence of any of the medical records being used elsewhere.
The cancer giant operates in 17 states with 145 centers in total. The breach however, involved patients of all 50 states and even those belonging to other countries, the company revealed.
The company apologized to affected patients through a statement and claimed that it had taken additional steps to improve on its security protocols in order to avoid a similar incident in the future.
The statement read:
We have no indication that the information has been misused in any way. We also recommend that patients regularly review the explanation of benefits that they receive from their health insurer. If they see services that they did not receive, please contact the insurer immediately.
The company also stated that it is due to an “abundance of caution” that it is notifying customers of the breach, even though there is no evidence to indicate information misuse. Furthermore, affected patients will also be offered a free year’s worth of credit protection services.
The FBI discovered the breach originally in November 13, 2015 and the subsequent investigation revealed that the breach occurred on October 3, 2015.
The statement also added:
We deeply regret any concern this may cause our patients, and we want to emphasize that patient care will not be affected by this incident.
The company continues with the FBI and its investigation into the breach.
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