UPMC Susquehanna Phishing Attack Exposes 1,200 Patients’ PHI

UPMC Susquehanna, a network of hospitals and health facilities in Williamsport, Wellsboro, and Muncy in Pennsylvania, has revealed that the protected health information of 1,200 patients has possibly been accessed by unauthorized people. Access to patient data is thought to have been obtained after a staff member responded to a phishing email.

While specific details of date the breach occurred have not been shared, UPMC Susquehanna says it identified the breach on September 21, when a staff member reported susjjjjjpicious activity on their computer. A review was initiated, which showed unauthorized people had gained access to that person’s device.

It is not known whether the attacker saw, stole, or misused any patient information, but the chance of data access and misuse could not be eliminated. The information potentially obtained includes names, contact information, dates of birth, and Social Security details.

The individuals possibly impacted by the incident had previously been treated at various UPMC Susquehanna hospitals including Muncy Valley Hospital, UPMC Susquehanna Lock Haven, Sunbury Community Hospital, Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital in Wellsboro, Williamsport Regional Medical Center and Divine Providence Hospital located in Williamsport.

UPMC Susquehanna reacted quickly to the breach, preventing unauthorized access. Employees have also been given “intensive retraining” on hospital policies and appropriate federal and state laws to avoid any further breaches. UPMC Susquehanna stated this training was in addition to the annual training sessions already given to all staff members on the privacy and confidentiality of patient health information. UPMC Susquehanna has also carried a complete review of its policies and procedures for keeping patient information safe.

All patients affected by the incident have been offered complimentary identity theft protection facilities and have now received alerts in the mail. Patients have also been given guidance on the steps they can take to safeguard their accounts and credit in case their information is used for ill means.