Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany Discovers Long-Term Malware Infection

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany (CCDA) has discovered, during a software upgrade in August 2017, that malware  was installed on one of the computer servers used by its Glens Falls premise, which provides services in Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties in New York.

A quick response was taken to block access to the server and CCDA called in a computer security firm to carry out an investigation into the unauthorized access. The review, which took several weeks to finish, revealed that access to the server potentially as far back as 2015.

While access to the server was possible and malware had been put in place, the investigation did not uncover proof to suggest the protected health information of patients had been accessed or stolen.

A review of the server showed the stored files included the protected health information of 4,624 people. The information potentially accessed by the hackers included names, addresses, birth dates, diagnosis codes, dates of service, and for some patients, their health insurance ID numbers which may have included Social Security details. Financial data and details of treatment and therapy were stored in other places on the network and were not accessible at any time.

The cyberattack has been made known to law enforcement agencies, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, the Division of Consumer Protection, and the state Attorney General. Patients have been alerted of the breach and have been offered credit monitoring and identity theft protection services for 12 months for free.

Even when adequate security solutions are in place to safeguard the protected health information of patients, breaches can still happen. Sister Charla Commins, CSJ, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties, outlined, “We have modern digital security measures in place, but every day it seems criminals’ intent on invading computer systems find new ways to do so.”

Sister Commins also stated, “We take very seriously our responsibility for protecting private information, and we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our clients and staff.”

To stop more malware attacks and intrusions, CCDA has taken steps to improve the security of its internal servers.

Author: Maria Perez