Updated on 22 August 2014
Social security numbers and other personal data are typically stolen by cybercriminals to sell on underground exchanges for use by others in identity theft
Singapore: One of the leading hospital groups from the US came under a cyber attack emerging from China. The criminals are said to have stolen Social Security numbers and other personal data belonging to 4.5 million patients. This has resulted in a serious warning issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to the healthcare industry and its lax data protection.
Reports quoted security experts as saying that the hacking group, known as ‘APT 18,' may have links to the Chinese government. "APT 18" typically targets companies in the aerospace and defence, construction and engineering, technology, financial services and healthcare industry, said Mr Charles Carmakal, managing director with FireEye Inc's Mandiant forensics unit, which led the investigation of the attack on Community Health in April and June.
He said in a news report, "They have fairly advanced techniques for breaking into organizations as well as maintaining access for fairly long periods of times without getting detected."
In a regulatory filing, the company explained that the information stolen from Community Health included patient names, addresses, birth dates, telephone numbers and Social Security numbers of people who were referred or received services from doctors affiliated with the hospital group in the last five years.
The stolen data did not include medical or clinical information, credit card numbers, or any intellectual property such as data on medical device development, said Community Health, which has 206 hospitals in 29 states.