Beth Israel data breach may affect over 2,000

Virus sent records to unknown location

By Hiawatha Bray
Globe Staff / July 19, 2011

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Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is notifying more than 2,000 patients that some of their personal information may have been stolen from a hospital computer.

The hospital said yesterday that an unnamed computer service vendor had failed to restore proper security settings on a computer after performing maintenance on it. The machine was later found to be infected with a virus, which transmitted data files to an unknown location.

The computer contained medical record numbers, names, genders, and birthdates of 2,021 patients, as well as the names and dates of radiology procedures they had undergone. But the computer did not contain the patients’ financial data or their Social Security numbers, which can be used to steal identities and defraud banks.

“We are grateful no Social Security numbers or financial information were released and apologize for the inconvenience and deeply regret any concern this situation may cause,’’ said John Halamka, the hospital’s chief information officer.

Halamka said the virus transmitted information in an encrypted form, so the hospital does not know exactly what might have leaked, but wanted to inform patients anyway.

For more information, patients can contact the hospital at 877-615-3765.

Hiawatha Bray can be reached at

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