Utah County Medical Group to Notify
Patients About Cybersecurity Attack
An update on our incident response
October 24, 2019
At Premier Family Medical, we take great pride in providing you and your loved ones with exceptional medical care. Technology and patient data play an important role in providing you the services you expect and we want to provide an update about what we have done following the cybersecurity incident we experienced this summer.
In September, we notified all patients in our database of the ransomware attack, by sending a letter and/or an email to clearly communicate what happened, how it affects them and what we were doing in response. As is common when dealing with large databases, we discovered some accounts that had contact information that needed to be updated. Some patients received correspondence from us that had outdated names or addresses associated with their accounts or home addresses. We appreciate those patients who alerted us to errors. We have investigated each occurance and are updating those files with correct contact information.
Ransomware vs. Stolen Data
One important note from our first round of communication that we wish to emphasize: Premier Family Medical experienced what is known as a ransomware attack, which is different than other types of breaches you have likely heard about in the media. A ransomware attack is when hackers gain sufficient control of a company’s network and prevent access by authorized users. When this happens, hackers are rarely interested in stealing data, rather they want to prevent access to the files until a ransom is paid. In the incident experienced by Premiere Family Medical, we were locked out of our files for a brief time before regaining access. However, the technical experts we retained to investigate the incident have determined there is no evidence that any of your or your family’s personal information was taken or accessed. Nevertheless, we still felt it was important to inform our patients of this incident. Patients should not need to cancel debit or credit card as a result of the incident.
Preventing future incidents
We do not want to give cybercriminals any insight into the enhancements we are making to our security systems, so Premier Family Medical will not publicly disclose details of the security enhancements we have and will implement. However, we do wish to reassure our patients that we are diligently working to prevent future incidents. Our efforts include:
- Updating our cybersecurity systems – We have added new security measures and we are now working with a new cybersecurity firm to ensure appropriate updates, patches and system monitoring take place. They will work hand-in-hand with our IT and security team.
- Electronic Medical Record system – this system will not only enhance the security of patient data, it will allow us to provide even better quality of care and patient outcomes.
- Augmented security training – We have already briefed our entire staff on the incident and we are holding more frequent cybersecurity training with each member of our team. Cybersecurity is a culture and one we are committed to strengthening across our organization.
We wish to express our gratitude to our patients for their understanding as we resolve this issue and work to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
AMERICAN FORK, Utah (August 30, 2019) – On July 8, 2019, Premier Family Medical (Premier) experienced a ransomware attack from an unknown, unauthorized third party. As a result, Premier was temporarily unable to access data from certain systems within its organization. Premier promptly informed law enforcement and engaged technical consultants to investigate and regain access.
“We love being in the business of caring for patients and understand that includes protecting their health information,” said Robert Edwards, Premier’s chief administrator who oversees Premier’s cybersecurity and privacy programs. “Even though our investigation has found no reason to believe patient information was accessed or taken, we are very concerned that this event even occurred and have taken steps to further enhance the security of our systems.”
Recently, national media outlets have been reporting on the dramatic rise in ransomware attacks impacting all industries but especially those in technology, healthcare, and government. Ransomware involves malicious software that is deployed by cyber criminals through various means to lock organizations out of their electronic systems and then demand payment in order to regain access.
Patients who have been treated at any of Premier’s ten Utah County locations will receive notification of the ransomware event later next week, including information about how to address concerns or questions to Premier. Premier also plans to report the ransomware event to the Department of Health and Human Services. Additional information and updates will be available at https://premierfamily.net/.