On October 5, 2018, Gold Coast Health Plan submitted a HIPAA Email Breach to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Based in Camarillo, California, Gold Coast Health Plan’s email breach affected 37,005 individuals’ protected health information.
Gold Coast Health Plan is classified as a Business Associate.
According to this report about Gold Coast Health Plan’s breach:
Camarillo, CA-based Gold Coast Health Plan is informing approximately 37,000 plan members that some of their protected health information has potentially been obtained by hackers who succeeded in compromising the email account of one of its employees.
The employee was fooled by a phishing email and the attackers gained access to the email account on June 18, 2018. Access remained possible until August 1, 2018. Gold Coast Health Plan discovered the security breach on August 8 and took steps to secure the account and prevent any further remote access.
A leading third-party cybersecurity firm was engaged to conduct an investigation into the breach and assess the scope of the incident and determine whether any patients’ health information was accessed. It was not possible to rule out PHI access and data theft with 100% certainty, although no reports have been received to date that suggest any PHI in the account has been misused.
Gold Coast Health Plan believes the attack was financially motivated and the purpose of the attackers was to gain access to banking information in order to make fraudulent transfers from Gold Coast Health Plan accounts rather than to steal plan members’ data.
The investigation confirmed that the compromised account contained claims data, health plan ID numbers, and the dates medical services had been received by plan members. Some individuals also had their name, birthdate, and/or medical procedure codes exposed. The types of information exposed varied for each patient with many patients only having one or two of the above data elements exposed.
Even though Social Security numbers and financial information was not exposed, Gold Coast Health Plan is offering breach victims a MyIDCare subscription and identity theft protection services through ID Experts without charge.
The breach has prompted Gold Coast Health Plan to implement further security controls to prevent similar breaches from occurring in the future. Those measures include enhanced end user training on security with a specific focus on phishing, increased monitoring of email accounts, and enhancements to email security controls.
HHS Wall of Shame
The HHS Wall of Shame is a website under the jurisdiction of HHS that lists all HIPAA breaches reported within the last 24 months. The Wall of Shame displays breaches that are currently under investigation by the Office for Civil Rights.
As part of section 13402(e)(4) of the HITECH Act, the HHS Secretary must post a list of breaches of unsecured protected health information affecting 500 or more individuals.
HIPAA Breach Report
The Paubox HIPAA Breach Report analyzes breaches that affected 500 or more individuals as reported in the HHS Wall of Shame.