Computer breach at Children's Hospital

October 26, 2006

By Vic Gideon

Overseas hackers have apparently accessed two computers at Children's hospital, one containing private patient data, the other billing and bank information.

The hospital is preparing to send out more than 200,000 letters informing patients of the breach. It's also given the F.B.I. information for the investigation.

The hackers apparently were from Germany and used computer loops through France, Turkey, and Canada, eventually landing data from Akron.

"It's absolutely terrifying in this day and age where information is power," says patient Jennifer Ferrick. "Privacy is of the utmost importance in the medical field."

"Social Security numbers on there, information, lot of information on there and their children and it could be scary," adds Emily Williams, also a Children's patient.

There's no evidence hackers downloaded the information but they could have viewed it.

"People need to be concerned but not overly concerned," says Debra Keller at the University of Akron. "It looks to me like it's not financial gain, it's more of the exploritory breach therefore there's very little chance that the data's going to be used for anything."

"With all the identity theft ... would it keep me from coming here?" Bob Mandela asks. "I mean, there really isn't another alternative but I would really hope they do something about it."

The hospital has increased security. It doesn't appear the hospital was a target for internet criminals and experts say this type of breach is not uncommon.

"It happens all the time," says patient Julie Lanzer. "Our phone company that we go through, it just happened with them, they got all the personal information so no, I love this hospital."

A recent study estimates it costs a company almost $200 for every document breached. Companies have to spend money to notify custoemrs or patients, set up call centers, and increase security.

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