Malware on hospital computer impacts thousands of Seattle patients

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A UW Medicine employee opened an email attachment and unknowingly downloaded malware, which led to the compromise of about 90,000 patients of Seattle-based Harborview Medical Center and University of Washington Medical Center.

How many victims? About 90,000. 

What type of personal information? Names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, medical record numbers, dates of service, charge amounts for services and Social Security numbers and HIC (Medicare) numbers.

What happened? A UW Medicine employee inadvertently opened an attachment in an email that contained malware. The malware infected the computer, which contained the patient data.

What was the response? UW Medicine staffers learned of the incident a day after the malware infection occurred. An FBI investigation was opened. Affected patients are being notified by mail. Review, training and outreach efforts are being implemented.

Details: The email attachment was opened in early October. The malware took control of the computer, which had the patient data stored on it.

Quote: “Based on the results of an internal investigation, it is believed that patient information was not sought or targeted,” according to a notification on the UW Medicine website.

Source: uwmedicine.org, “UW Medicine Notice of Computer Security Breach,” Nov. 27, 2013

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