73 Email Accounts of Bonita Springs Employees Compromised Due to Phishing Attack

A phishing attack on NCH Healthcare System, Bonita Springs located in Florida, highlighted how critical it is to train healthcare employees on security awareness.

On June 14, 2019, Bonita Springs tracked down the phishing attack upon seeing suspicious email activity connected with its payroll system. The investigation confirmed that 73 employees surprisingly disclosed their account details to scammers after clicking links in phishing emails.

It is typical for healthcare organizations to come across an email account breach and then see more serious effects later. Frequently, plenty of emails accounts are compromised because of lateral phishing. Lateral phishing refers to the use of a compromised email by a hacker to send phishing emails to other persons within the company. But this case of extensive breach is different and seldom happens.

NCH Healthcare system’s investigation of the attack is still in progress with the aid of a third-party computer forensics firm. The early investigation results show that the attacker’s target was not the patients’ protected health information (PHI), but the rerouting of payroll payments.

On July 2, 2019, the forensic staff confirmed the fact that some patient data were exposed as a result of the attack. But there was no confirmation about the compromised types of information. When the investigation is completed, Bonita Spring will send notifications to the impacted people.

It’s likely that the investigation will take much longer because of the size of the breach and the volume of emails to be checked in the many accounts compromised. Only by examining the accounts can it be confirmed if there were patient PHI exposed.

NCH compliance official Kelly Daly stated that having security settings in place prior to the phishing attack limited the potential harm. Without security measures, there could have been more employees affected by the phishing attack.

To date, no report suggests that PHI was misused. Even so, patients are directed to watch over their explanation of benefits statements and financial accounts to check for signs of data theft or misuse.