Officials: No hacker skills needed for data breach in NH psychiatric hospital

The former New Hampshire Hospital patient who allegedly accessed information for up to 15,000 people on a computer in the hospital's library did not need any special computer skills to obtain the information, according to state officials. 

Jeffrey Meyers, commissioner of the state Department of Health and Human Services, told the New Hampshire Union Leader that the information was readily accessible on computers used by patients at NHH, the state's psychiatric hospital in Concord.

A former patient allegedly used a hospital library computer in October 2015 to access information on up to 15,000 people who received services from the state health department, including welfare, Medicaid and child protective services.

Hospital security staff found the confidential information posted on social media more than a year later. State officials believe the personal information was posted only once, on Nov. 4, 2016. It was removed within 24 hours of discovery.

"We do not believe there was any hack into the computer network," Mr. Meyers told the New Hampshire Union Leader. "The computer was configured in a way that the individual was able to gain access inappropriately to information that they should not have had access to."

Another official said the patient used an already logged-in account that was made accessible with a password previously entered.

Mr. Meyers said a criminal investigation is underway.

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