Community Heath Systems network announced Monday 4.5 million hospital records were stolen due to a group of hackers attacking the company.
The attack affected each of the company’s 206 hospitals, many of which operate in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas.
The hackers were able to gain access to patients’ names, addresses, Social Security numbers, telephone numbers and dates of birth. Those at risk include anyone who received treatment from or was referred by another physician to one of the network’s hospitals within the last five years.
One of the hospitals affected by the attack was Volunteer Community Hospital in Martin, which has already begun taking steps to alleviate the damage.
“We take very seriously the security and confidentiality of private patient information and we sincerely regret any concern or inconvenience to patients,” said Jennifer Conner, director of Marketing and Public Relations for Volunteer Community Hospital, in a statement released Tuesday. “Though we have no reason to believe that this data will ever be used, all affected patients are being notified by letter and offered free identity theft protection.”
Community Health Systems has begun consulting with cybersecurity firm Mandiant. The firm has been able to determine that the attack was carried out by a group of hackers from China in April and June of this year. They also discovered the group used high-end malware to facilitate the attack, according to CNN’s Evan Perez.
Community Health Systems told CNN they had successfully wiped the malware from their computer systems prior to Monday’s announcement.
“The intruder has been eradicated and applications have been deployed to protect against future attacks. We are working with federal law enforcement authorities in their investigation and will support prosecution of those responsible for this attack,” Conner said. “Many American companies and organizations have been victimized by foreign-based cyber intrusions. It is up to the Federal Government to create a national cyber defense that can prevent this type of criminal invasion from happening in the future.”
Featured Photo: Volunteer Community Hospital in Martin is one of the 206 hospitals across the U.S. operated by Community Health Systems. (Justin Glover)