SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

'Protected Health Information' Breach Notification Issued


September 06, 2017
Wednesday PM

(SitNews) Anchorage, Alaska - The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services on September 1, 2017, the department had a security breach that may have disclosed personal information of individuals who have interacted with the Office of Children’s Services. Due to the potential for stolen personal information, DHSS urges Alaskans who have been involved with Office of Children's Services to take actions to protect themselves from identity theft.

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) is United States legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information.

On July 5 and July 8, two Alaska Office of Children's Services' computers were infected with a Trojan horse virus, resulting in a potential HIPAA breach of more than 500 individuals. It is not yet known if the division’s confidential information was accessed. It is possible that OCS reports and documents containing family case files, personal information, medical diagnoses and observations, and other related information was accessed during this breach. Preliminary investigations indicate that information potentially accessed from this breach originated in the Western region.

Quoting a news release, upon discovery of these events, the department took immediate action to mitigate further access to the infected computers. The DHSS Information Technology and Security team continues to work quickly to determine the scope of data potentially accessed, and will provide up-to-date information to Alaskans who may have been impacted by this event.

The HIPAA Breach Notification Rule requires notification of affected individuals, HHS, and in some cases, the media of a breach of unsecured PHI (Protected health information).

Most notifications must be provided without unreasonable delay and no later than 60 days following the discovery of a breach. Notifications of smaller breaches affecting fewer than 500 individuals may be submitted to HHS annually. The Breach Notification Rule also requires business associates of covered entities to notify the covered entity of breaches at or by the business associate. HHS HIPAA Breach Notification Rule webpage for more information and guidance.

Individuals who have had prior contact with the Alaska Office of Children’s Services should call 888-484-9355 to see if their personal information may have been included in this breach.

Updates will also be provided at


ON the Web:

Information about how to protect avoid identity theft, visit the
Federal Trade Commission’s website:



Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews



Source of News:

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services



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Ketchikan, Alaska

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