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Community Health Systems hacked, affecting many in NEPA

Marion Munley

Hackers broke into Community Health Systems, stole data on 4.5 million patients

Community Health Systems, the owner of Moses Taylor and Regional Hospitals in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre General, Tyler Memorial near Tunkhannock and First Hospital in Kingston, announced Monday that it was the target of a cyber attack.

Community Health Systems operates 206 hospitals across the country, including those mentioned locally. The company said that hackers broke into its computers and stole data on 4.5 million patients. According to reports on Fox News, they believe the attack originated in China.

CNN reported that the hackers gained access to names, social security numbers, addresses, birth dates and phone numbers, which is considered a breach under HIPPA. Anyone who received treatment from a physician’s office tied to a network-owned hospital in the last five years, or was merely referred by an outside doctor may be affected. In its SEC filing, the company said the stolen data does not include medical or credit card information. Fox reported that in response to the breach, the company has notified people whose information was stolen, and if offering them identity theft protection services.

Reuters recently reported that the upsurge in hacking makes customer data a corporate time bomb. In the report, Reuters said that cyber security experts say that no matter how much companies spend to increase IT security, they are unlikely to be able to stop their systems from being breached. They say the best defense may be to reduce the data they hold or encrypt it so that it will be useless if stolen.

The Community Health System attack comes on the heels of many large cyber attacks in this country, including retail giants Target and Neiman Marcus. Cyber attacks have bean steadily on the rise, and online hackers have emptied bank accounts, stolen identities and ruined the credit of millions of unsuspecting individuals.

We all have many devices that can be hacked, from computers to tablets and smartphones. If you can plug it in or connect it to a network, your device can be hacked by someone.

The personal injury lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys offer the following tips to protect yourself from hackers.

  • Avoid Wi-Fi hotspots, they are not very secure.
  • Only visit secure sites. Install the HTTPS everywhere browser extension. It is an add-on for Chrome, Firefox an opera that ensures that whenever you visit a site that offers data encryption, you’re using it.
  • Create strong passwords. Make them long and difficult to figure out, using a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. The longer a password is, the harder it is to crack.
  • Don’t use the same password for everything; create different passwords for different accounts.
  • Change your password often.
  • Beware of phishing. Don’t open email from unknown sources, especially attachments.
  • Password protect all of your devices.

The Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys have been fighting for clients for more than 50 years. They are experts in car, truck and bus accidents; medical malpractice; wrongful death; workers’ comp and product and premises liability. For more information, visit www.munley.com.

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