Breach, Data Security

Seattle hospital data exposed online

Swedish Medical Center, the largest nonprofit health care provider in the greater Seattle area, is alerting current and former employees that their personal information was inadvertently accessible online for several weeks. 

How many victims? 20,000.

What type of personal information? Social Security numbers.

What happened? A hospital employee working at home in April made accidental changes to his home network that  could have allowed others to access information on his computer through an internet search. The sensitive data was exposed for nine weeks before being discovered by an unknown person.

Hospital policy prohibits employees from keeping personal information on home computers.

Details: Affected individuals worked for the hospital in 1994, 1995, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006. Some are still employed there.

There is no evidence that the exposed data has been used to perpetrate any fraud.

What was the response?  The hospital is providing victims with a free subscription for identity protection services. In addition, it is working to improve its security and user awareness training.

Source:, The Seattle Times, “20,000 Swedish employees personal data breached,” July 20, 2011.

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