I’m Kate Dewhirst.

I’m a lawyer who writes about legal issues affecting healthcare in Canada

Kate Dewhirst Health Law - bringing the law to life. Meet Kate (in 13 seconds)

Yikes! Want to know what a ransomware attack sounds like in healthcare?

Posted by

According to a CBC report published yesterday, a home medical services company was recently hacked and tens of thousands of health records for home care patients across Ontario were held for ransom.

The home care company issued a public statement in June 2018 confirming that it had been the victim of a cyber attack.

A group claiming responsibility has shared with the CBC copies of health records they collected through this cyber attack. The CBC  report says the sample they have seen includes “thousands of patient medical records with phone numbers and addresses, dates of birth, and health card numbers, as well as detailed medical histories including past conditions, diagnoses, surgical procedures, care plans and medications for patients across the province.”

To put it mildly … that’s not good.

We have heard about cyber attacks before in the health sector.  You may remember the stories of the WannaCry virus that attacked healthcare organizations around the world in May 2017.  The UK was especially hit hard – where they had to cancel surgeries and other medical appointments.  What you might not realize is that Ontario was also hit in that ransomware attack. An Ontario hospital was hit by the virus – which negatively affected their computer systems for weeks although they were able to ultimately keep the hackers out of their health records.

What does this new story of an Ontario ransomware attack mean for your health team?

It means a few things:

  1. Make sure you speak with your security team or consultants to ensure your health records are encrypted and protected against hacking.
  2. Train your team about how to identify a malicious email and not open it! More practical tips in my previous blog on the topic.
  3. Read the prevention tips against ransomware issued by the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario and implement those activities for your team.

Good security practices and protocols require everyone’s attention.  Your security is only as good as your team members allow it to be.

This is a cautionary tale worth the attention of every Privacy Officer in health care.  <Shiver>


If you enjoyed this article please share it:


Previous and next posts from Kate:

Some of Kate’s recent and upcoming events

Team Privacy Training Events

September 17, September 24, October 16, October 24 and November 21

For Primary Care clinics, Children’s Aid and FHTs

Kate trains health professionals from many more primary care organizations how being privacy-respectful can improve therapeutic relationships. more details...

Speaking event

October 23, 2019

Osgoode Professional Development – Mental health Certificate

Kate joins the faculty for this training event. More details...

Primary care webinars: Contracts & Communications

September 5 and October 3, 2019, 12 noon

Part of Kate’s monthly webinar series.

Our September webinar is about understanding contracts you may be asked to sign, and in Octber our title is Managing incapacity in the workplace.

Full details of the 2019 webinar series and registration here.

Privacy Officer training

January 20 & 27 and February 3,10 & 18, 2020

Kate is the program chair for the Osgoode Certificate in Privacy in Healthcare.

This program explores the range of privacy interests that must be protected in the day-to-day treatment of patients, the development of information systems and the creation of institutional policies.More details ...

Advanced Privacy Officer training

December 10, 2019

For experienced Privacy Officers within healthcare organisations.

This one day training course focuses on how to handle difficult privacy situations using real-life (but anonymized) case studies and role-play. Full details and registration here...

Free healthcare privacy webinar - ask me anything!

August 7 and September 4, 2019, 10-11am EST

Free webinars - advance registration needed

Whether you're an experience privacy officer or new in the field, pick Kate’s brain for free for an hour, in this live webinar. No charge, but you’ll need to register in advance.

Kate Dewhirst Health Law

Kate says:

My mission is bringing the law to life. I make legal theory understandable, accessible and fun! I’m available and love to work for all organizations in the healthcare sector across Ontario and beyond.

Subscribe to my mailing list and keep up to date with news:

Latest Tweets

The Biggest Mistake Health Teams Make When Receiving Privacy Concerns. Claim your free privacy officer training vid… https://t.co/RKnmq5OdCU

about 19 hours ago

[Starts JAN 20] Globally, healthcare accounted for more privacy breaches than any other industry in 2018.… https://t.co/coT04cQ3E1

12:01 PM Aug 18th

contact details

901 King Street West Suite 400 East Tower
Toronto Ontario M5V 3H5

(416) 855 9557

.