DeKalb Regional Medical Center also victim of data breach

Northeast Alabama
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FORT PAYNE, Ala. (WHNT)-  DeKalb Regional Medical Center in Fort Payne also had data stolen in a cyber attack that impacted other hospitals nationwide, including Crestwood Medical Center in Huntsville.

In a statement released to the media, a hospital spokesperson said, "Limited personal identification data belonging to some patients who were seen at physician practices and clinics affiliated with DeKalb Regional Medical Center over the past five years was transferred out of our organization in a criminal cyber attack by a foreign-based intruder. The transferred information did not include any medical information or credit card information, but it did include names, addresses, birth dates, telephone numbers and social security numbers."

The statement says it's believed that hackers from China stole the information.  It's also believed the hackers were actually looking for technology rather than personal data.

A cyber expert at UAH says even people who try to limit their online exposure are still not immune to cyber hackers.

"Everything we do today, whether a person has a computer or not, most of your information, financial, personal and everything, it's somewhere online," said Sara Graves, a professor at UAH.

Graves says that security has been unable to keep up with the rapid growth of the internet during the past two decades.  She says research is currently underway at UAH to try and strengthen cyber security.

"Where we actually try to rethink the whole network infrastructure.  Rethink how software is developed. Rethink a lot of those components that were built with this great open network in mind that we all like, now we are having to rethink with that openness comes a lot of vulnerabilities."

Patients who were impacted by the cyber attack will be receiving letters from the hospital in the coming days.  DeKalb Regional will also offer free identity theft protection to those individuals.

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