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Computer virus infects Alberta's Health Services network

By Bob Ewing     Jul 9, 2009 in Health
The Alberta Health Services (AHS) has notified the Alberta Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner that a virus was present on the Alberta Health Services network in Edmonton.
The virus has affected, Netcare, Alberta’s electronic health record. It has since been removed from the system.
This is a new variant of coreflood, a Trojan horse program, designed to steal data from an infected computer and send it to a server controlled by a hacker.
Coreflood captures passwords and data the user of the computer accesses. The virus was active for two weeks from May 15 to 29 before it was detected and removed.
There are two groups who may be at risk due to the virus. They are, one, patients whose health information was accessed in Netcare through an infected computer and, two, employees who accessed personal banking and email accounts from work using an infected computer.
AHS is sending letters to the 11,582 patients whose information may have been exposed and has notified all affected employees.
This attack does not necessarily mean Netcare itself has been infected by the virus; rather the virus may have captured patient data accessed through Netcare from an infected computer and sent it to an external party.
“While it appears the risk to patients is low, viruses don’t discriminate and this is an important message to everyone about the need to run up to date anti virus software”, said Commissioner Frank Work.
The attack is under investigation, meanwhile, Work is expecting a full forensic report from Alberta Health Services on how this happened and what steps will be taken to prevent future breaches.
Work says “AHS responded quickly when the virus was detected and that steps have been taken to notify users and patients with advice on what they should do to protect personal and health information”.
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