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University of Miami Medical School data heisted


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2 million patient records stolen

Six data backup tapes containing confidential patient data from the University of Miami Miller Medical School were stolen when a vehicle that contained the tapes was broken into and the transport case they were inside was heisted from the vehicle. 

University of Miami officials last week acknowledged that the tapes from its medical school that contained more than 2 million patient medical records were stolen from a van that was transporting the data to an off-site facility.

The transport company, Archive America, for some reason did not immediately notify the University, but waited 48 hours before it informed the University about the break-in and data theft. The University then waited almost another month before it posted an alert that publicly reported the theft.

The stolen backup tapes contain the names, addresses, Social Security numbers and health information for all patients seen at University Medical facilities since January 1, 1999, and financial data from about 47,000 patients may also be on the stolen backup tapes.

When the University learned of the data theft it contacted local computer forensics companies to see if data on a similar set of backup tapes could be accessed. The University reports that security experts at the forensics company tried for data to decode similar data but were unable because of encoding tools and proprietary compression used to write the data to the storage tapes.

While the University has reported that it has notified all patients whose data is at risk, it issued a statement that the theft was likely a random vehicle break-in and that the person(s) who took the backup tapes have no idea what is on the tapes nor any idea how to extract the information.

The University has since stopped transporting its backup data offsite.

Last modified on 25 April 2008
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