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South Texas hospital data breach puts 15,000 patients at risk

CHRISTUS Health said the breached data could include a patient's full name, Social Security number, date of birth, home address, billing and insurance information.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Notifications are going out to CHRISTUS Spohn patients whose personal information may have been compromised in a network breach back in May.

According to CHRISTUS Health, it was May 4 when IT security discovered that an unauthorized third-party had gained access to their network. They said operations were not impacted, but CHRISTUS Health said they are making sure to notify any patient whose data may have been accessed.

Ed Evans is the Senior Associate Vice President for Information Technology at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. He said that with more eyes on technological devices than ever, consumers are susceptible to more frequent ransomware attacks.

Even corporations aren't immune.

"It also seems like some places are experiencing multiple attacks. So maybe they remediate themselves, and then they come back and get attacked again, from the corporate perspective," Evans said.

If residents find themselves on the receiving end of leaked information, Evans said that trying to stay in control of the situation is the best course of action.

"Just remain calm through it all. Hopefully, if a company has been compromised in or lost your data, then they're going to offer to use some type of a credit monitoring service or something like that," Evans said.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, information about the breach was submitted on July 1. The website says more than 15,000 individuals may have been affected.

While they have no evidence to indicate data was used to commit identity theft or fraud, CHRISTUS Health said the kind of data that may have been impacted could include a patient's full name, Social Security number, date of birth, home address, billing information and insurance information.

CHRISTUS Health said they are still reviewing the incident, and that in meantime, those who may have been impacted will be provided with free one-year identity protection security.

"We always have this false sense of security," said Chris Hegg, CEO of Phoenix Technology Consulting.

"At the end of the day, you're using the passwords everywhere, right? So, you know, you want to be consistent, you know, with having different passwords," Hegg said.

He added that after signing terms and condition agreements on websites, residents are providing their personal information to them. 

"You're authenticating to go view your information, but yours along with thousands of other people's information reside in there," Hegg said. "And so, if they are unable to protect that information, you know, fully, then you're vulnerable."

David Abarca is a professor of computer science with Del Mar College. He said that backing up data is crucial to protecting your online identity.

"We should have an anti-virus that we run once or twice a day, every day," Abarca said.

Abarca believes that being proactive instead of reactive can help when it comes to suspicious links and applications.

"This is one of those things where you don't want to be the weakest link in the chain of the corporation. And you're the one who didn't do what you're supposed to do on a particular day that allowed this to enter the system," Abarca said.

If you are worried that your data could have been affected, CHRISTUS SPOHN Health System encourages you to contact them at 855-503-2683 between 8 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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