Department of Health Confirms Nearly 9 Million Patients Exposed by PJ&A

  • By Steven
  • Published: Nov 20, 2023
  • Last Updated: Nov 22, 2023

Department of Health Confirms Exposed

Perry Johnson & Associates (PJ&A) is a medical transcription service assisting providers like Cook County Health and Northwell Health. In mid-October, Chicago’s Cook County Health announced a data breach from PJ&A with a limited impact figure. However, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) has confirmed a more significant number than PJ&A initially determined.

How Did the Attack Occur? 

According to the DHS filing, the breach was a hacking incident over PJ&A’s network server. The cyberattack purportedly consisted of an unauthorized party accessing their network and creating copies of files from PJ&A systems. Initially, the breach by Cook County Health implied the resulting investigations had not yet been complete. The Cook County impact figure was under 1.2 million, but the total number has grown to massive proportions; despite the increase in total impact, there is still little to nothing about how the attackers made the assault possible. 

What Information Was Viewed or Stolen? 

PJ&A has also changed the impacted data from limited patient details to a broader scale. The stolen data differs between patients, compacting health organizations’ challenges in properly notifying individuals. Northwell’s consumer notice suggests a significant chunk of patient personal data got compromised in the breach. 

Among the stolen information, the hackers have allegedly accessed patient names, dates of birth, medical record numbers, hospital account numbers, admissions and diagnoses, dates and times of service, Social Security Numbers, insurance information, medical files like lab tests, medication details, and treatment/healthcare provider names. 

How Did Perry Johnson & Associates Admit to the Breach? 

Northwell’s website breach notice lists a timeline of events, with some omissions about other organizations. According to what is currently known, the attack began around March 27th and presumably lasted until May 2nd. During this time, the assailants gained access to various medical databases for multiple days, sometimes weeks. On or around May 2nd, PJ&A discovered the breach and immediately took action. 

The preliminary investigation initially confirmed 1.2 million impacted by the Cook County breach; however, further reviews have added another 3.9 million patients impacted by the Northwell breach. Both networks sent notices to these impacted patients—but another 4 million people have not yet received their letters. 

What Will Become of the Stolen Information? 

How the hackers might use the data from PJ&A’s breach and the assailant’s identity are unknown. The DHS filing suggests an impact figure of nearly 9 million people—8,952,212 patients—may feel consequences from the breach. Almost half of those who have had their information exposed are unaware of the incident; subsequently, patients are likely to have their information profiteered before they know it’s out there. Organizations may still investigate their specific impacts, prompting them to withhold notices until officials can contact all parties simultaneously.

What Should Affected Parties Do in the Aftermath of the Breach? 

Those who have received notices from Cook County Health or Northwell Health should know their information is at risk. However, another 4 million patients may not know their data is at risk. Additionally, because PJ&A is a third-party service, any health network could see the consequences of the breach. For these reasons, patients across the mid and northeast should consider medical monitoring services to help protect their data.

About the Author
IDStrong Logo

Related Articles

Instagram Vulnerability Allowed Hackers Access to Control Your Phone

Security experts Check Point Research discovered a critical vulnerability while examining Instagra ... Read More

Alien Malware Infects More than 226 Mobile Apps and Steals Bank Data

As reported on September 24, 2020, by ZDNet and ThreatPost, a new strain of malware named “A ... Read More

Universal Health Systems Hit by Ransomware Attack

Universal Health Systems (UHS), a Fortune 500 company owning more than 400 hospitals across the co ... Read More

Exchange Server Bug Exposes a Big Risk to Hackers

Months after Microsoft released a patch to fix a serious flaw in MS Exchange Server, more than 61% ... Read More

Clients’ Bank Data Exposed in Blackbaud Ransomware Attack

Blackbaud software was victim to a ransomware attack last May, and new information suggests that c ... Read More

Latest Articles

What Are Vacation Club and Timeshare Scams and How to Avoid Them

What Are Vacation Club and Timeshare Scams and How to Avoid Them

In early 2023, the FBI made a public service announcement warning that scammers had been targeting owners of timeshares in Mexico; they reported an estimated $39.6 million in losses involving only Mexico timeshares.

What to Do if Your Credit Card is Lost or Stolen

What to Do if Your Credit Card is Lost or Stolen

Credit and debit cards have become the most prominent form of wealth access in the last decade. Once consumers pulled out thick wallets of cash—they now pull out thin clips of cards—if they bother using a card, not a watch or cellphone.

Credit Card CVV Number: Meaning and Security

Credit Card CVV Number: Meaning and Security

Inspect your credit card, and you'll likely find interesting—and crucial—elements of the plastic rectangle. The front might display the provider's name, a chip, some digits, or an entire card number; the back might hold much the same, along with a signature, when necessary, and a "valid thru [sic]" date.

Featured Articles

How to Buy a House with Bad Credit

How to Buy a House with Bad Credit

Buying your own home is the American Dream, but it might seem out of reach to those with bad credit. However, the good news is, if your credit is less than perfect, you do still have options and in most cases, can still buy a home.

How Secure Is Your Password? Tips to Improve Your Password Security

How Secure Is Your Password? Tips to Improve Your Password Security

Any good IT article on computers and network security will address the importance of strong, secure passwords. However, the challenge of good passwords is that most people have a hard time remembering them, so they use simple or obvious ones that pose a security risk.

Top 10 Senior Scams and How to Prevent Them

Top 10 Senior Scams and How to Prevent Them

Senior scams are becoming a major epidemic for two reasons. First, seniors often have a lot of money in the bank from a life of working hard and saving.

Free Identity Exposure Scan
Instantly and Securely Check if Your Personal Information is Exposed on the Dark Web or Sold by Data Brokers
Please enter first name
Please enter last name
Please select a state
Close
Free Identity Threat Scan
Instantly Check if Your Personal Information is Exposed
All fields below are required
Please enter first name
Please enter last name
Please enter a city
Please select a state
Please enter an age
Please enter an email address
Close