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Privacy & security

Large U.S. health system reports breach, offers credit checks

WILMINGTON, Delaware – About 1.6 million individuals are being offered one year’s worth of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection following the loss of three unencrypted backup tapes at a facility owned by a children’s health system.

Information on the tapes, missing from a Wilmington, Del., facility owned by Nemours, includes names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, insurance information, medical treatment information and direct deposit bank account information.

Nemours is a large pediatric health system that cares for 250,000 children annually. Its facilities are located in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida. It was established as The Nemours Foundation through the legacy and philanthropy of Alfred I. du Pont, and includes the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington.

A notice posted on the Nemours web site reported the following:

On September 8, 2011, we learned that a locked tape storage cabinet containing computer backup tapes was missing. We immediately began an investigation and now believe the cabinet was removed from our Wilmington facility on or about August 10, 2011 during a remodeling project. To date, we have been unable to locate the storage cabinet. We believe the cabinet contained three unencrypted backup tapes from a computer system we stopped using in 2004. No medical records were on the backup tapes, but they did contain patient billing information, including name, date of birth, insurance information, medical treatment information, and Social Security number.

We are taking a number of steps to help prevent this from happening again, including moving toward encrypting backup tapes, retraining our employees, and enhancing our storage procedures. We have no reason to believe that the cabinet was stolen or that the information on the backup tapes has been accessed or used improperly. It would take highly specialized equipment and specific technical expertise to access any of the information on the tapes.

We are notifying affected individuals by mail and are offering one year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection for those affected.

Posted October 20, 2011