ATLANTA — A Channel 2 Action News investigation has uncovered just how big the data breach was this past fall at a local health clinic.
In October, Peachtree Orthopedics announced its computer system had been hacked in five counties. The clinic wouldn't tell us how many people were affected.
Months later, Channel 2’s Carol Sbarge learned that the cyberattack put 531,000 people at risk of identity theft.
It is the largest medical-data hack in Georgia so far this year and it ranks sixth in the country for the number of people put at risk.
Victims of the breach include current members of the Atlanta Hawks, former Braves players and government workers, including FBI agents.
More than half a million people received letters informing them of the hack.
"I read this, and I'm like, 'You gotta be kidding me,'” patient Jim O’Kane said.
Medical records are valuable on the dark web. Experts say while Social Security numbers go for pennies a piece, medical records can cost $5 each.
“It's the Holy Grail, right, because you have to fill out that new patient form. For me, I was a first time (patient), you have to fill out a new patient form, and they basically ask you for everything under the sun,” O’Kane said.
Federal data shows that nationwide, nearly 300 medical data breaches have been reported so far this year.
Cyberattacks like these are a challenge for the feds.
“It's very different than 20, 30 years ago when you had very clear footprints and fingerprints all over the criminal activity. Now it's very easy to mask your criminal activity on the internet,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Grimberg said.
On Twitter, a person or group going by the name "the dark overlord" claimed responsibility for the attack and even released a free sample of the data to entice possible buyers on the dark web.
Peachtree Orthopedics sent a statement saying they are “working closely with outside experts as part of an ongoing review of their security measures."
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