Wait! Don’t Open that Email Attachment

We have all been there–we receive an email from an apparently trusted contact that contains an email attachment, and we open it.  Malicious computer hackers are becoming increasingly creative in imbedding malicious software in email attachments and are even creating emails that look like they are from a trusted source (e.g., your bank, credit card company, etc.).  Everyone needs to be vigilant to avoid opening ficticous email attachments, but health care providers need to be extra careful as their computers, and connected servers and networks, contain patients’ protected health information.

UW Medicine has first-hand knowledge of how devastating opening a malicious email attachment can be: “UW Medicine has notified nearly 90,000 patients of an October data breach involving malicious software (malware)… A UW Medicine employee received and opened an email attachment containing malware, which took over the computer that contained patient information from Harborview Medical Center and University of Washington Medical Center. Compromised data included names, dates of birth, home addresses, phone numbers, dates of services and related charges, medical record numbers, HIC (Medicare) numbers, and Social Security numbers.  UW Medicine did not mention whether or not the information was encrypted, suggesting it was not.” Article.

Health care providers must be pro-active to work with their IT professionals to anticipate potential security issues and protect not only the practice’s information, but the privacy and security of its patients medical information.

Tell us how your organization protects against malicious computer attacks?   Share your ideas with us by clicking on the comment button below.  We’d love to hear from you.

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