Cyber-attack Exposes Eye Clinic Patient Data

A cyber-attack on an eye clinic with locations across Iowa may have exposed the records of hundreds of thousands of patients. 

On Tuesday, Wolfe Eye Clinic announced that it had suffered a digital assault in February of this year. During the attack, an unauthorized third party gained access to the clinic's computer network. 

According to the clinic, the perpetrators behind the cyber-attack may have compromised the records of roughly half a million past and present patients. 

Wolfe Eye Clinic stated that the breach occurred on February 8. The clinic hired an independent IT firm to probe the security incident, but it wasn't until months later that the scale of the breach was realized.

"Upon detecting this incident, we moved quickly to secure our network environment and launched a thorough investigation," stated Wolfe Eye Clinic.

"The investigation was performed with the help of independent IT security and forensic investigators to determine the scope and extent of the potential unauthorized access to our systems and any sensitive information," the clinic continued. 

"Given the complexity and scale of the cyber-attack detected, the full scope of information potentially impacted was not fully realized until May 28, 2021."

The firm completed its investigation on June 8. After examining the digital forensic evidence, it found that patient data exposed in the attack may have included patient names, mailing addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and protected medical/health information.

Wolfe Eye Clinic is in the process of contacting all patients that may have been impacted by the data breach with a mailed breach notification. Affected patients are being offered a complementary year of identity monitoring services. 

The clinic said that it is "taking steps to prevent a similar event from occurring in the future by implementing additional safeguards and enhanced security measures to better protect the privacy and security of information in our systems."

Wolfe Eye Clinic, which was founded by Dr. Otis Wolfe, first opened its doors in 1919. The business, which today serves more than 700,000 patients, started with one clinic in Marshalltown, Iowa. It now includes 11 main clinics, 9 family vision centers, a surgical center and more than 25 outreach locations across the state.

What’s Hot on Infosecurity Magazine?