41K+ patients warned of possible data breach after Cancer Centers of America phishing attack

Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Western Regional Medical Center in Bullhead City, Ariz., is warning 41,948 individuals about a potential compromise of their protected health information after a hacker briefly gained access to an employee's email account earlier this year.

Using phishing tactics, an unauthorized third party accessed an employee's email account in May. The fraudulent email appeared to have originated from a company executive, and the targeted employee inadvertently gave the hacker network login credentials.

The hacker may have accessed patient information stored in the email account, including patient names, addresses, dates of birth, email addresses, phone numbers and/or medical information, as well as some Social Security numbers.

The center launched an investigation into the incident, which revealed the unauthorized user may have accessed information in the email account for a short period of time on May 2. Within hours of the attack, the center's IT department told the employee to make a password change, the centers said.

Although the center's investigation did not determine whether the hacker accessed any data, it said it is providing notice to patients as a precaution.

"We take our responsibility to safeguard personal information seriously and remain committed to protecting patient privacy and security. We have provided additional education to our workforce about how to identify suspicious emails to help ensure this does not happen in the future," a statement on the center's website said.

More articles on cybersecurity:

Renters find thousands of pages of medical records in former physician's home
California health center alerts patients to improper PHI disposal
Ransomware attack strikes Rhode Island health center: 4 things to know

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