HealthEquity Phishing Attack Exposes PHI

HealthEquity Inc. has been hit by a phishing attack leading to the exposure of members’ protected health information. The data breach was restricted to one email account, although a review of the messages in the account showed a range of PHI was potentially stolen by the attacker.

Information possibly accessed in the attack was restricted to names, email addresses, HealthEquity member ID numbers, employer ID numbers, employer names, health account type, deduction figures, and for some Michigan-based workers, Social Security numbers.

The breach was discovered on April 13, 2018 and was found to have taken place two days previously, giving the hacker 48 hours to access messages in the account. Access to the compromised account was quickly turned off to prevent any further unauthorized access.

A third-party computer forensics company was contacted to complete a full review into the attack. The investigation showed that the breach was restricted to a single email account and access was obtained due to human mistake – the employee replying to a phishing message. No other systems were exposed or affected by the phishing attack.

While PHI access was open, no proof was found to suggest the emails in the account were opened or PHI was downloaded by the hacker, although as a precautionary measure, all affected people have been offered free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services through ID Exertss.

As a HIPAA covered body, HealthEquity must send notifications about the breach and release a media notice to a prominent media outlet within 60 days of identifying of a PHI breach. That notice was sent to ClickOnDetroit. The breach was restricted to two companies, both of which have been alerted about the security incident.

The incident has yet to be published on the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR) breach portal, so it remains unclear how many people have been affected by the incident.