News Column

Community Health Centers hacked, W.B campus OK

August 28, 2014

By Joey Aguirre, The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa

Aug. 28--WEST BURLINGTON -- A national health care provider said last week hackers broke into its computers and stole data from more than 4 million of its patients.

In April and June 2014, a group believed to be based in China hacked into the Community Health Systems Professional Services Corp. and transferred 4.5 million patient records and copied data from the corporation.

The Community Health Center in West Burlington was not a victim of the attacks. A spokesperson for the health center said it has secure data lines at the health center, and it has been business as usual this year with no interruptions. The West Burlington office uses a different computer system.

Likewise, Great River Medical Center was not breached.

Marketing and public relations director Craig Borchard said the medical center has proactive measures in place to monitor for this type of activity and block these sort of attempts.

Community Health Systems operates in 206 hospitals in 29 states. Iowa was not one of the states affected.

The intruder was able to use highly sophisticated malware technology to attack the systems and bypass the company's security measures. According to CNN, the massive data breach could have been avoided after media reports earlier this year and warnings from cybersecurity professionals were voiced. Security researchers at TrustedSec said the hospital network did not update its systems to patch the bug soon enough.

The Community Health Center in West Burlington does not use this network.

The hackers took advantage of "Heartbleed," a defect in the way computers communicate securely with websites.

The bug starts with a hole in the software a vast majority of websites on the Internet use to turn personal information into strings of random numbers and letters. If a padlock image is shown in the address bar of a web browser, there's a good chance the site is using the encryption software affected by the Heartbleed bug.

The bug allows potential hackers to take advantage of a feature computers use to see if they're still online. The most popular sites affected by this, Amazon, Google and Yahoo, use those encryption tools. Those four sites have updated their websites with a fix for the bug.

Users should log out of all websites.


(c)2014 The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa)

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Source: Hawk Eye, The (Burlington, IA)

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