Dana RogersMarch 14, 2018

Malware attack causes breach of 134,512 patient records

Malware attack causes breach of 134,512 patient records

According to a recent statement by St. Peter’s Surgery and Endoscopy Center in New York, a malware attack potentially gave hackers access to 134,512 patient records, which makes it the second-largest breach this year.

It’s also the largest breach to hit New York state since the breach of more than 3.4 million records of Newkirk Products in 2016.

Hackers gained access to St. Peter’s server on Jan. 8, and the breach was discovered by officials on the same day. Quickly detecting the malware limited the time hackers had access to the server, but the investigation couldn’t rule out whether patient data was viewed, accessed or stolen.

The breached server contained patient names, addresses, dates of birth, service dates, diagnoses, procedures and insurance information. Social Security numbers were included for some Medicare patients, and Medicare data was exposed for some patients. No credit card or banking information was exposed.

What is a Malware Attack?

Malware, short for malicious software, can easily be described as unwanted software that is installed in your system without your consent. Viruses, worms, and Trojan horses are examples of malicious software that are often grouped together and referred to as malware.

With so many people routinely surfing the Web, malware is often unwittingly spread across the Internet. Once you enter a compromised website, your system can easily be contaminated after clicking on malicious links present and malware can be installed on your computer without your knowledge.

Malware is an easy method of mass infection; compromising one website is easier than sending several emails. It targets all visitors/victims that visit a site and click on desirable links, converting their systems to act on the attacker’s behalf.

6 tips to keep protected against malware

Our computers contain valuable personal information than ever, and more and more they’re the targets of malicious actors. If you don’t take steps to protect your computer and data, you’re leaving the door wide-open to malware and hackers that will steal your data and take over your computer.

Here are the best tips every user should know to protect their computers and data against malware attacks.

  1. Backup your data
    One of the best ways to protect your computer and data from malware attacks is to make regular backups. You should always create at least two backups: one to keep offline and another to keep in the cloud.
  2. Update your operating system and internet browsers 
    It’s crucial to always install the latest updates for Windows and other software. Companies like Microsoft and others are regularly releasing updates to patch potential vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers.
  3. Use a firewall
    A firewall is a software- or hardware-based application that helps to block malicious attacks from hackers, worms, ransomware, viruses, and other types of malware trying to access your computer from the internet to steal your information.
  4. Install an antivirus solution
    It’s essential to have an antivirus installed on your computer to detect and remove malware before they can compromise your data, slow down or crash your device
  5. Read emails with an eagle eye.
    Check the sender’s address. Is it from the actual company he or she claims? Hover over links provided in the body of the email. Is the URL legit? Read the language of the email carefully. Are there weird line breaks?
  6. Use Complex and Secure Passwords
    The first line of defense in maintaining system security is to have strong and complex passwords. Complex passwords are difficult for the hackers to find. Use a password that is at least 8 characters in length and include a combination of numbers, letters that are both upper and lower case and a special character.

What to do if your computer gets infected

If  your computer does get infected with a virus, worm, ransomware, or another type of malware, the first thing you want to do is to physically disconnect the device from the network and turn off the PC’s Wi-Fi to prevent the malware from spreading (or, if you can’t do that, kill either remove it from the range of your Wi-Fi or turn off the router until you’ve killed the infection).

Run an antivirus scan to remove the malware. If this isn’t possible, you may need to restore your system from a backup and reinstall your operating system.

If you’re not up to the challenge, or you don’t have a backup of any kind, you’ll be better off contacting a computer professional for help.

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