Connecticut based healthcare group Starling Physicians is warning patients their personal information may have been breached in a recent cyber-phishing attack that targeted some of the organization’s emails.
“My 1-year-old’s learning to walk, so she shouldn’t really be concerned with her identity being stolen,” said Alex Paggioli, whose three children are patients at Vernon Pediatrics, owned by Starling Physicians.
While he wasn’t notified that his kids were directly impacted by this breach, it was unsettling to know that people like them were vulnerable.
“I don’t think that people really take it seriously until it does happen but I mean these threats out there are real and it can happen to anybody,” Paggioli told NBC Connecticut.
“I’m concerned about my son’s information being out there,” said Angela Attardo from Ellington, whose son is also a patient at the Vernon practice. “I mean he’s only 12, so it’s difficult to see if anybody has it what they’re doing with it.”
Brian Mulligan, a cybersecurity expert at Kelser Corporation in Glastonbury, says 93 percent of healthcare organizations today have experienced a similar type of breach.
“Healthcare organizations today are very much at risk because of the personal information that they carry inside of their systems,” Mulligan explained.
According to Mulligan, information like addresses, medical information and social security numbers are very accessible and profitable for hackers on the black market.
While Starling Physicians wouldn't confirm exactly how many are affected by this breach, a spokesperson for them said it’s less than .01 percent of active patients.
Mulligan says it's particularly challenging to figure out whether your child's information has been compromised.
“There’s not a lot you can do because they don't have a credit file,” he said.
What you can do is set up an account with a credit organization using your child's social security number, and set up blocks so you're notified any time someone tries to use their identity.
“Somebody could go in and create a whole fictitious person with that Social Security Number,” explained Mulligan. “Parents should be aware and should put those blocks in place.”
The parents NBC Connecticut spoke to Thursday said they will be thinking twice next time they’re asked for their children’s’ personal information.
“I’m going to be more cautious about what information I give out and to whom,” Attardo said, “I’m going to be checking to make sure that I’m only giving what’s absolutely necessary.”
Anyone with questions or concerns about the breach can contact Starling at 1-888-800-3306, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information on how to protect against fraud, visit the FTC website here.