Recently, South Shore Hospital Corporation (“South Shore Hospital”) announced that it experienced a cyber security incident resulting in the Protected Health Information of more than 115,000 individuals being compromised. The data breach lawyers at Console & Associates, P.C. are going to begin interviewing victims of the breach to determine what damages they sustained and what legal claims may be available to them. If you recently learned your information was compromised in the recent breach, reaching out to a data breach lawyer is the first step to understanding all of your options.
What We Know So Far
South Shore Hospital is a non-profit hospital located in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1912, the hospital almost exclusively treats patients receiving Medicare or Medicaid benefits. South Shore Hospital maintains several connected practices, including South Shore Professional Building, Highland Medical Center, Shared Physician Office Space, Wu Family Medical Center, Seniors & General Wellness Center, Elsie R. Walker, M.D. P.C. We Care. The hospital employs about 425 people and generates over $42 million in annual revenue.
According to a notice posted on the hospital’s website, on December 10, 2021, South Shore Hospital noticed suspicious activity on its computer network. The hospital investigated the incident to determine what information may have been compromised as a result. Subsequently, South Shore Hospital learned that the Protected Health Information of certain patients and employees was compromised. The affected data may vary by individual, but includes their first and last names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, financial information, health insurance information, medical information, diagnoses, health insurance policy numbers, and Medicare/Medicaid information. According to some reports, as many as 115,670 people were impacted by the breach.
Around February 11, 2022, South Shore Hospital began sending out data breach notification letters to those whose information was compromised in the breach.
More About the Causes and Risks of Data Breaches Often, data breaches are the result of a hacker gaining unauthorized access to a computer system with the intention of obtaining sensitive consumer information. While no one can know the reason why a hacker targeted South Shore Hospital, it is common for hackers and other criminals to identify those companies believed to have weak data security systems or vulnerabilities in their networks.
Once a cybercriminal gains access to a computer network, they can then access and remove any data stored on the compromised servers. While in most cases an organization experiencing a data breach can identify which files were accessible, there may be no way for it to tell which files the hacker actually accessed or whether they removed any data.
While the fact that your information was compromised in a data breach does not necessarily mean it will be used for criminal purposes, being the victim of a data breach puts your sensitive data in the hands of an unauthorized person. As a result, you are at an increased risk of identity theft and other frauds, and criminal use of your information is a possibility that should not be ignored.
Given this reality, individuals who receive a South Shore Hospital data breach notification should take the situation seriously and remain vigilant in checking for any signs of unauthorized activity. Businesses like South Shore Hospital are responsible for protecting the consumer data in their possession. If evidence emerges that South Shore Hospital failed to adequately protect your sensitive information, you may be eligible for financial compensation through a data breach lawsuit.
What Are Consumers’ Remedies in the Wake of the South Shore Hospital Data Breach? When patients went to South Shore Hospital for treatment, they assumed that the hospital would take their privacy concerns seriously. And it goes without saying that patients would think twice before giving an organization access to their information if they knew it wasn’t going to be secure. Thus, data breaches such as this one raise questions about the adequacy of an organization’s data security system.
When a business, government entity, non-profit organization, school, or any other organization accepts and stores consumer data, it also accepts a legal obligation to ensure this information remains private. The United States data breach laws allow consumers to pursue civil data breach claims against organizations that fail to protect their information.
Of course, given the recency of the South Shore Hospital data breach, the investigation into the incident is still in its early stages. And, as of right now, there is not yet any evidence suggesting South Shore Hospital is legally responsible for the breach. However, that could change as additional information about the breach and its causes is revealed.
If you have questions about your ability to bring a data breach class action lawsuit against South Shore Hospital, reach out to a data breach attorney as soon as possible.
What Should You Do if You Receive a South Shore Hospital Data Breach Notification? If South Shore Hospital sends you a data breach notification letter, you are among those whose information was compromised in the recent breach. While this isn’t a time to panic, the situation warrants your attention. Below are a few important steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft and other fraudulent activity:
Identify What Information Was Compromised: The first thing to do after learning of a data breach is to carefully review the data breach letter sent. The letter will tell you what information of yours was accessible to the unauthorized party. Be sure to make a copy of the letter and keep it for your records. If you have trouble understanding the letter or what steps you can take to protect yourself, a data breach lawyer can help.
Limit Future Access to Your Accounts: Once you determine what information of yours was affected by the breach, the safest play is to assume that the hacker orchestrating the attack stole your data. While this may not be the case, it’s better to be safe than sorry. To prevent future access to your accounts, you should change all passwords and security questions for any online account. This includes online banking accounts, credit card accounts, online shopping accounts, and any other account containing your personal information. You should also consider changing your social media account passwords and setting up multi-factor authentication where it is available.
Protect Your Credit and Your Financial Accounts: After a data breach, companies often provide affected parties with free credit monitoring services. Signing up for the free credit monitoring offers some significant protections and doesn’t impact any of your rights to pursue a data breach lawsuit against the company if it turns out they were legally responsible for the breach. You should contact a credit bureau to request a copy of your credit report—even if you do not notice any signs of fraud or unauthorized activity. Adding a fraud alert to your account will provide you with additional protection.
Consider Implementing a Credit Freeze: A credit freeze prevents anyone from accessing your credit report. Credit freezes are free and stay in effect until you remove them. Once a credit freeze is in place, you can temporarily lift the freeze if you need to apply for any type of credit. While placing a credit freeze on your accounts may seem like overkill, given the risks involved, it’s justified. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (“ITRC”), placing a credit freeze on your account is the “single most effective way to prevent a new credit/financial account from being opened.” However, just 3% of data breach victims place a freeze on their accounts.
Regularly Monitor Your Credit Report and Financial Accounts: Protecting yourself in the wake of a data breach requires an ongoing effort on your part. You should regularly check your credit report and all financial account statements, looking for any signs of unauthorized activity or fraud. You should also call your banks and credit card companies to report the fact that your information was compromised in a data breach.
Below is the notice posted on South Shore Hospital’s website. Here is a direct link to the notice.
NOTICE OF SECURITY INCIDENT
South Shore Hospital (SSH) values the privacy and confidentiality of all patient data within its control. Regrettably, this notice is to inform you about a data security incident that may have impacted your Protected Health Information (PHI). If you are currently, or were at some time in the past, a patient or employee of SSH, this notice of data security incident may apply to you. SSH sincerely apologizes for any concern this may cause you.
On Friday, December 10, 2021, SSH became aware of unauthorized activity on its network. Upon discovery, SSH quickly activated its emergency operating protocols to continue providing safe patient- and family-centered care to those who need it. As part of its response process, SSH hired independent computer forensic experts to investigate and determine what information may be at risk. Law enforcement was contacted, and SSH intends to cooperate with any investigation into this matter.
What information was involved?
The investigation determined that the files impacted may have contained first and last names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, financial information, health insurance information, medical information, diagnoses, health insurance policy numbers, and Medicare/Medicaid information for SSH patients and employees.
What are we doing?
To help reduce the risk of something like this happening again, we are implementing additional security controls to protect our network. These steps include enforcing stronger password requirements, enabling multifactor authentication, and additional data privacy and security awareness training for SSH’s workforce. We have also deployed supplementary anti-malware and email phishing tools and will continue to evaluate our security protocols for opportunities to further bolster
our network security.
As a safeguard, we are also offering identity theft protection services through IDX, a data breach and recovery services expert, at no charge to SSH patients affected. These services include 12 months of credit and CyberScan monitoring, a $1,000,000 insurance reimbursement policy, and fully managed identity theft recovery services.
What can you do?
It is always a good idea to carefully monitor your bank account and other financial statements and immediately contact your financial institution if you identify any suspicious activity. We recommend that you keep an eye on your benefits statement and report any unusual activity. We also encourage you to take full advantage of IDX’s service offering by calling 1-833-783-1445 or going to https://app.idx.us/account-creation/protect to enroll in identity protection services.
To learn if you were affected by this incident, please call 1-833-783-1445 Monday through Friday from 8 am – 8 pm central time.
For more information
Please call 1-833-783-1445 Monday through Friday from 8 am –8 pm central time if you have any questions or concerns. Your trust is our top priority, and we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience or concern that this matter may cause you.
Individuals can also contact the Federal Trade Commission at 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20580, 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653-4261 or visit www.ftc.gov/idtheft/ for more information on protecting their identity.
Source link https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/data-breach-alert-south-shore-hospital-7788461/
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