Possible security breach at Medical College of Wisconsin may have compromised patient information

MILWAUKEE -- The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) says they were recently hit with a data security breach, and thousands of patients' confidential information may have been compromised.

The information may include patients' names, birthdays, medical record numbers, health insurance information -- as well as a small amount of Social Security numbers and bank account information.

According to a news release from the MCW, they learned that a small number of faculty and staff were victims of a spear phishing attack to their email system. It occurred between July 21st and July 28th, but the the forensic firm could not definitively conclude if any information was actually accessed, viewed, downloaded or otherwise acquired by the unauthorized user.

Upon discovering the issue, MCW promptly disabled the impacted email accounts, required password changes to the compromised accounts, maintained heightened monitoring of the accounts and commenced an investigation.

MCW concluded that an unauthorized third party accessed a limited number of email accounts belonging to MCW employees that contained patients’ protected health information, the release states. The compromised email accounts at issue contained either one or more of the following: patients’ names, home addresses, dates of birth, medical record numbers, health insurance information, date(s) of service, surgical information, diagnosis/condition, and/or treatment information.

Social Security numbers and bank account information for a very small number of patients were also contained within the affected email accounts.

According to the news release, to date, MCW is not aware of any reports of identity fraud, theft, or improper use of the information as a result of this incident, but provided notice out of an abundance of caution.  Notified patients have been provided with best practices to protect their information.  It also is recommended that affected patients review the statements that they receive from their health insurance providers and follow up on any items not recognized.  Credit monitoring and identity theft restoration services have been provided to those individuals whose Social Security numbers were potentially compromised.

"MCW is committed to maintaining the privacy of patient information and continually evaluating and modifying its practices and procedures to enhance appropriate security and privacy measures to prevent recurrence of this incident, including conducting ongoing cyber awareness training for its workforce and regularly updating its system security and firewalls," the news release states.

For further questions or additional information regarding this incident, patients may call a dedicated toll-free response line that has been set-up at (844) 666-7416, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Central Time.  Patients may also visit www.mcw.edu.