Cyberattack in LA County nets personal health info on hundreds of thousands

Monday, December 19, 2016 by

(Cyberwar.news) Technology is most definitely a double-edged sword in the Information Age, at once making our lives much easier while at the same time laying them bare for all to see.

Personal privacy has taken another huge hit, this time in Los Angeles County, where hundreds of thousands of residents have had their personal information stolen in a phishing attack. As the Los Angeles Times reports:

Confidential health data or personal information of more than 750,000 people may have been accessed in a cyberattack on Los Angeles County employees in May that led to charges this week against a Nigerian national, officials have disclosed.

The May 13 attack targeted 1,000 county employees from several departments with a phishing email. The message tricked 108 employees into providing usernames and passwords to their accounts, some of which contained confidential patient or client information, officials said.

Most of the 756,000 people whose information may have been accessed had contact with the Department of Health Services, according to the county. A smaller amount of confidential information from more than a dozen other county departments also was compromised.

Among the data potentially accessed were names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, financial information and medical records — including diagnoses and treatment history — of clients, patients or others who received services from county departments.

The paper said that while the county learned of the attack the day after it occurred, launching a criminal investigation, officials waited seven months before informing the public. They cited a state law that allows officials to withhold notification while a criminal investigation is underway.

The Times noted that cyber investigators with the L.A. County district attorney’s office traced the attack to Nigeria. Prosecutors issued an arrest warrant Thursday, accusing Austin Kelvin Onaghinor, 37, of launching the attack and charged him with nine felony counts, including unauthorized computer access and identity theft.

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