Sioux City Eye Clinic Suffers Data Breach Potentially Impacting 40,000 Individuals

Jones Eye Clinic and its affiliated surgery center, CJ Elmwood Partners, L.P, in Sioux City, IA has revealed that the protected health information of up to 40,000 of its patients may have been compromised.

The private data breach occurred following a ransomware attack which impacted data stored in an information system used for scheduling appointments and billing clients. Electronic medical records were not impacted as they were located on a separate system which was not accessed by the hacker.

Jones Eye Clinic identified the ransomware attack on August 23, 2018, although an investigation by an external forensic investigator revealed that the hacker obtained access to its system and installed the ransomware on the evening of August 22.

A ransom was requested in order for the data to be decrypted; however, no payment was made as it was possible to rescue the files from backups. A full data restoration was finished on August 23.

The review into the ransomware attack did not discover anything to suggest that the hacker viewed or obtained patient data, although since data theft could not be eliminated, all impacted patients have been provided with free credit monitoring services for 1 year. Patients have been alerted regarding the data breach by mail and have up to January 19, 2019 to enroll for credit monitoring services.

The information possibly accessed was restricted to full names, dates of birth, home addresses, medical record numbers, dates of appointments and general descriptions of surgical procedures and clinic visits. Some patients may also have had their insurance status, Social Security details, and claims information impacted. Jones Eye Clinic does not believe financial data was stolen.

The breach could have impacted all patients of the eye clinic and surgery center who registered or received medical treatments between January 1, 2003 and August 23, 2018.