Ransomware Attack Hits Fetal Diagnostic Institute of the Pacific

Honolulu-based Fetal Diagnostic Institute of the Pacific (FDIP) was hit by a ransomware attack on June 30 this year. File-encrypting software was uploaded to an FDIP server and encrypted a wide range of file types some of which were patient medical records.

FDIP contracted a leading cybersecurity company to complete a full review of  the breach to see whether patient data was accessed by the hackers and also to help with breach remediation. The review did not find any proof of patients’ protected health information being accessed, viewed, or stolen by the hackers, although it was not possible to eliminate data access and data theft with a high level of certainty.

Due to this, the incident is being dealt with as a HIPAA breach, patients are being alerted, and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has been made aware of it.

A review of the files encrypted by the ransomware showed they included a variety of protected health information. Patients impacted by the security breach may have had their full name, home address, date of birth, account number, diagnoses, and “other types of information” exposed. No financial data was accessed due to the attack. The breach report filed to OCR shows 40,800 current and former patients have been impacted by the HIPAA.

FDIP reports that swift action was taken to address the breach and erase the malicious software and rescue all encrypted files. All systems have now been cleansed and no trace of any malware persists. Measure have also been taken to enhance security protections to stop any further security breaches and unauthorized disclosures of patient information.

FDIP does not believe any patients will suffer experience any ill consequence due to the ransomware attack, although patients have been advised to get in touch with FDIP quickly if they become aware of any suspicious activity that they believe is related to the HIPAA breach.

This breach is only the fifth of its kind of more than 500 records to have been made known to OCR by a Hawaii-based covered organisation since data breach summaries first started being made public by OCR in 2009.