Ransomware Hits Kentucky Healthcare Network, Exposing Data of 2.5 Million

  • By Steven
  • Published: Dec 11, 2023
  • Last Updated: Dec 14, 2023

Kentucky Healthcare

Norton Healthcare consists of over 430 locations between Kentucky and Indiana. The clinics meet over two million a year, including adult and pediatric patients. The hospital offers one of the largest not-for-profit healthcare systems in the region and employs over 25,000 faculty members. Norton Healthcare is a community powerhouse in the region; this makes their announcement of a data breach all the more disturbing. 

How Did the Attack Occur? 

Norton’s cyberattack was an unauthorized party that accessed some of their network storage devices. After gaining access, the threat actor potentially exfiltrated documents concerning some individuals within the network, subsequently launching ransomware to extort Norton. Norton has stated within their notice to the Maine Attorney General’s Office that they have not paid any ransom demand. It is unclear how the malicious actor gained access to the systems, but the event is unlikely to be repeatable; there are no indicators of human error, which means the assault may have come through a back door vulnerability. 

What Information Was Viewed or Stolen? 

The notification letter published on Norton’s website states the attacker accessed storage devices but not their internal systems. Norton Healthcare’s medical record system and Norton MyChart remain unharmed from the cyberattack. Although their record system and MyChart were inaccessible, the assailants collected other significant data.

The attack includes information from current and former patients, employees, employee dependents, and beneficiaries within their systems; this makes it likely that some minors may have had their data stolen in the event. The stolen data differs between individuals; some may have less exposure than others. The exposures include full names, birthdays, Social Security Numbers, contact information, health information, insurance details, and medical identification numbers. Some may have also lost digital signatures, financial account information, and government ID numbers like driver’s licenses. 

How Did Norton Healthcare Admit to the Breach? 

According to the investigation timeline, the unauthorized party accessed Norton’s system around May 7th, 2023. They remained in the system for two days, and officials discovered them afterward. Around May 9th, Norton became aware of the ransomware within their storage and launched a defensive response. It is unclear when Norton made their rejection of the ransom demands, but it likely happened soon after. Since then, Norton has worked with cyber experts and authorities to uncover the scope of the event; this investigation concluded in mid-November. A few weeks later, around December 8th, officials sent impact notices to individuals.

What Will Become of the Stolen Information? 

The assailants may misuse the information stolen in this event in the future because they could not secure a ransom from Norton. The thieves could sell all 2.5 million records online for thousands or refine their impersonation tactics. No matter what they have in store for the data—individuals still have time to protect themselves.

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

Those impacted by the breach should receive a physical notice within the coming weeks; however, they don’t have to wait for the letter to start protecting themselves. The data owners could fall victim to credit card fraud, financial, or online impersonation. They could face the breach’s impact in courtrooms, be wrongly accused of criminal behavior, or become physically endangered by medical fraud. Victims of this breach still have time to protect themselves, although the extent to which their information has traveled remains uncertain. They should, at minimum, secure their accounts with new, complex passwords and consider account monitoring services.

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