US hospital reports data blackmail

Clay County Hospital faced a demand for money to keep patient data from being revealed

An Illinois hospital says someone attempted to blackmail it to stop the release of data about some of its patients.

Clay County Hospital, a medium-sized hospital chain in the US state, received an anonymous email on Nov. 2 that asked for "a substantial payment" to avoid patient data being released. The email included "protected health information" of some patients, it said Monday.

The hospital says it immediately notified law enforcement agencies.

An investigation discovered the data relates to patients who visited Clay County Hospital clinics on or before February 2012. A hospital representative declined to disclose how many people are involved but said the data is limited to their names, addresses, Social Security numbers and dates of birth. No medical information was compromised in the breach, they said.

The hospital believes the data has not been released so far. It didn't disclose how the data was obtained but said an audit by an outside expert concluded the hospital hadn't been hacked.

A recent report by the Identity Theft Report Center found that by early December there had been 304 breaches so far this year in the U.S. healthcare sector. That's 42 percent of the 720 breaches reported across the country. But, in part because of the massive breaches at major retailers, the entire healthcare sector only accounted for 9.7 percent of all records compromised in reported breaches so far in 2014.

The healthcare industry is more closely regulated than others, and federal regulations require the disclosure of breaches involving at least 500 people. Non-health corporations are not always held to the same standard, so the number of breaches reported is not necessarily comparable.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags CriminalsecurityClay County Hospitaldata breachlegalhealth careindustry verticalscybercrime

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?