The California UCLA Health hospitals announced that have breached its systems and accessed personal information and medical records of 4.5 million patients.

The California UCLA Health hospitals announced that hackers may have breached its systems and accessed personal information and medical records of 4.5 million patients.

The UCLA Health medical group reported that hackers infiltrated its computer systems as long ago as September 2014. The medical records accessed by hackers include patient names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers, health plan numbers, lists of medications, and medical test results.

According to a notice released by the UCLA Health, internal staff on May 5 discovered the intrusion, the experts which are working with FBI suspect the data breach begun as early as September 2014.

“On May 5, 2015, we determined that the attacker had accessed parts of the UCLA Health network that contain personal information, like name, address, date of birth, social security number, medical record number, Medicare or health plan ID number, and some medical information (e.g., medical condition, medications, procedures, and test results).

We have notified and are working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding this cyber attack. We continue to investigate the attack with help from third-party computer forensics experts. There are indications that the attacker may have had access to the UCLA Health network as early as September 2014. Our investigation is on-going.” report the notice.

The hackers violated the network of the UCLA Health group, according the notice released by the group there is no evidence hackers acquired individual’s personal or medical information,

“While the attackers accessed parts of the computer network that contain personal and medical information, UCLA Health has no evidence at this time that the cyber attacker actually accessed or acquired any individual’s personal or medical information,” reads the statement.

The company confirmed that as many as 4.5 million individuals potentially may have been involved in the data breach.

“UCLA Health estimates that data on as many as 4.5 million individuals potentially may have been involved in the attack, believed to be the work of criminal hackers.” continues the statements.

This is the latest data breach in order of time against companies in the healthcare industry, including Anthem and Premera Blue Cross, which affected tens of millions of Americans.

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According to the Ponemon Institute, the health care industry suffered the highest costs that were estimated at an average of $363 per record, a data that doesn’t surprise the experts due to the higher value of medical records respect credit card data.

A set of complete health insurance credentials sold for $20 on the underground markets in 2013 — 10 to 20 times the price of a US credit card number with a security code, according to Dell.

Caleb Barlow, vice president at IBM Security, explained that data in a medical record have a much longer shelf life than that of a credit card number.

“With credit cards, the time frame from the breach to mitigation is very short,” Barlow explained. “But the health care record can be used to establish access in perpetuity,” “it can be used to establish credit or steal your identity ten or fifteen years from now,” he added. “Once this information is out there, you can’t get the genie back in the bottle.”

The noticed released by the UCLA Health medical group includes a FAQ session that provides useful information for patients.

 Pierluigi Paganini