Mississippi hospitals possibly affected in healthcare company cy - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Mississippi patient data possibly stolen in cyber attack against helathcare company

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Source: Community Health Systems website Source: Community Health Systems website
Source: Community Health Systems website Source: Community Health Systems website
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

We're learning more about a massive data breach involving millions of patients at hospitals around the country.

The company apparently targeted by hackers owns or operates several hospitals right here in the metro, meaning patients here could also be affected.

"You're under enough strain when you've got family in the hospital, so you don't need to go through additional (strain)," resident Nell Ward said.

More than four million patients at hospitals owned or operated by Community Health Systems are now at serious risk for identity theft.

The company announced Monday that the cyber attacks may have happened in April and June, bypassing various security systems to take patient names, addresses, phone numbers...and perhaps most importantly, Social Security numbers.

"Honestly, I would just freak out," said student Sami Elkins. "That's a big invasion of privacy, but I don't know where I would go from there. I would be worried."

The company released a statement to WLBT on Monday afternoon:

"The cyber-attack affected data belonging to some patients who were seen at some physician practices that are affiliated with Community Health Systems hospitals. This includes some clinics and practices in Mississippi," CHS Senior VP of Communications and Marketing Tomi Galin said. "We think it is important for people to know that no clinical or medical information and no credit card or financial information was included in the data transferred out of our system."

The information that was taken came from patients who were referred to or received care from doctors tied to the company over the past five years.

Twelve hospitals in Mississippi are owned or operated by Community Health Systems, with five of those in the Jackson Metro area: Central Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Crossgates River Oaks Hospital in Brandon, River Oaks Hospital and the Woman's Hospital in Flowood and Madison River Oaks Medical Center in Canton.

If you've been a patient anytime in the last five years, even if you were referred by another doctor, you're at risk.

"River Oaks comes up, and I remember that my wife had surgery there, some five years ago," said resident Bobby Weatherly. "If we find out River Oaks is involved, we're gonna be really nervous."

Since news of the breach broke Monday, three Jackson-area hospitals confirmed "limited personal identification data belonging to some patients" who were seen in the Jackson-Vicksburg area over the last five years was transferred in a criminal cyber-attack.

However, River Oaks Hospital, Madison River Oaks Medical Center and Crossgates River Oaks Hospital also quickly reiterated that no medical records were taken.

CHS said the attack could have come from a group in China, using malware to gain access to the information.

The company said its system is secure once again. And CHS reiterated no medical records or credit card information was included in the data breach.

Still, many others say the damage has already been done.

"It's really scary. You just don't think it'll ever happen to you," said Elkins. "Cause I know I don't when I give away that information. I'm thinking well, it's safe, because why would they be asking me if it wasn't, especially a healthcare facility?"

The company is notifying all patients affected and will be offering them identity theft protection services.

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