10-Month Exposure of PHI at 8,300 Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation of Kansas Patients Revealed

An error has caused a database utilized by Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation of Kansas (CPRF) to have its safeguard switched off for 10 months, making the protected health information (PHI) of 8,300 patients accessible.

The demographic database that was affected was discovered on March 10, 2018 and was quickly secured. The iaudit into the breach found that while the database had been established on a secure subdomain in early 2000, when CPRF switched its servers in 2017 the database was not spotted leading to the accidental removal of security measures. During the duration of time that the database was exposed it is possible that personal and health information was accessed by unauthorized people.

The violation was restricted to personal data and personal health information relating to the type of disability suffered by those recieving treatment. No financial data or donor information was accessed. People impacted by the breach had attended CPRF between 2001 and 2010.

It is not known whether any of the exposed information was obtained by unauthorized parties during the time that the database was accessible. As a precautionary measure, CPRF is providing all affected people 12 months of credit monitoring and identity theft protection services for free.

As part of its audit and vulnerability remediation attempts, CPRF performed a full review of all domains, subdomains, and databases and discovered no further weaknesses existed. Data security policies have now been enhanced as have policies and procedures related to staff transitions to stop future mistakes which could potentially lead to the exposure of PHI. CPRF has also hired a third-party to perform regular vulnerability scans and penetration reviews.

All impacted people have been alerted of the privacy breach by mail and a breach report has been filed to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR).