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Privacy Briefs: January 2020

A cybersecurity breach temporarily halted cancer radiation treatment services at the Cancer Center of Hawaii on Oahu,[1] the center said. The center, which provides radiation treatment for cancer patients at two locations—Pali Momi Medical Center and St. Francis Healthcare System’s hospital campus in Liliha—confirmed in December that it experienced a computer network hack on Nov. 5. In response, the center shut down its network servers, which temporarily prevented it from being able to offer radiation services to its patients. The center said it was able to retrieve all essential patient treatment information from its radiation machines and restore its network to full operation, but it did not say how long the system was disabled or how long radiation treatment was suspended. No patient data was compromised during the incident, the center said.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) plans to propose legislation this year to tighten computer security at health insurers in the state, following revelations that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota allowed hundreds of thousands of serious cybersecurity vulnerabilities to collect on its computer systems over a period of years, the Star Tribune reports.[2] The announcement comes after the newspaper revealed that “Minnesota Blue Cross, the state’s largest health insurer, is working to eliminate as many of the 200,000 critical or severe cybersecurity vulnerabilities on its network servers as it can, following sharp prodding by a whistleblower.” The not-for-profit insurer told the newspaper that customers’ protected information is secure, and that it complies with existing legal requirements for data privacy and security. The proposal would give the state’s Commerce Department the power to investigate cybersecurity precautions and breaches at insurance companies. It also would create a requirement that insurers notify the office when they experience a breach.

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