by Seiji Iwasaki
Article filed in
Confluence Health Suffers HIPAA Email Breach
by Seiji Iwasaki
On July 27, 2018, Confluence Health submitted a HIPAA Email Breach to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Based in Wenatchee, WA, Confluence Health’s email breach affected 33,821 individuals’ protected health information.
Confluence Health is classified as a Healthcare Provider.
According to this report about Confluence Health’s data breach:
The security breach was discovered on May 29, 2018. A digital forensics firm was called in to conduct an investigation, which revealed the email account had been accessed by an unauthorized individual on May 28 and May 30, 2018.
The email account only contained a limited amount of protected health information and no highly sensitive data such as Social Security numbers or financial information was exposed. Patients impacted by the incident have had information such as their names and treatment information exposed.
Confluence Health had multiple security solutions in place to prevent unauthorized account access and staff had received security awareness training, yet those measures were bypassed by the attacker.
While PHI access was possible, the investigation uncovered no evidence to suggest that PHI had been stolen and no reports have been received by Confluence Health to suggest there has been any misuse of PHI.
Patients affected by the breach have been notified by mail and additional safeguards have now been implemented to improve the security of its email system and ensure that any suspicious email and network activity is detected more rapidly in the future.
The breach had been reported to the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights. The breach summary indicates 33,821 patients were affected.
The incident is the latest in a spate of phishing attacks on healthcare organizations. In the past two months, phishing incidents have been reported by Sunspire Health in New Jersey, The Alive Hospice in Tennessee, the Terteling Co., Inc., Group Benefit Plan in Idaho, and Boys Town National Research Hospital. The latter incident was the eighth largest breach of 2018 and the largest breach at a pediatric hospital. The incident impacted more than 105,300 patients.
HHS Wall of Shame
The HHS Wall of Shame is a website under the jurisdiction of HHS that lists all HIPAA breaches reported within the last 24 months. The Wall of Shame displays breaches that are currently under investigation by the Office for Civil Rights.
As part of section 13402(e)(4) of the HITECH Act, the HHS Secretary must post a list of breaches of unsecured protected health information affecting 500 or more individuals.
HIPAA Breach Report
The Paubox HIPAA Breach Report analyzes breaches that affected 500 or more individuals as reported in the HHS Wall of Shame.