FBI Investigating Possible DSHS Hacker

FBI Investigating Possible DSHS Hacker
FBI Investigating Possible DSHS Hacker 

By Emily Ramshaw
The Texas Tribune
June 28, 2010 

The FBI is investigating whether a hacker broke into the state's 
confidential cancer registry, possibly holding personal information and 
medical records hostage.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs says state health 
officials notified his office in early May that a hacker was holding the 
Texas Cancer Registry hostage and demanding a ransom. Suehs says 
preliminary investigation results from the FBI indicate the threat may 
be a hoax, and officials with the Department of State Health Services, 
which oversees the cancer registry, say they don't believe the names, 
dates of birth, Social Security numbers and personal medical information 
contained in it were stolen. But if the FBI determines private records 
were revealed, Suehs says, health officials will quickly notify the 
people listed in the registry.

"This is an incident that makes everybody's antennas go a little bit 
higher, and I'm using it as an opportunity to elevate our awareness of 
our responsibility to protect information," Suehs says. "Nothing is 
100-percent secure. But I think [most of] our systems, our processes, 
worked. And that's the positive thing."

The security scare comes at a sensitive time for the state's health 
agencies, which are making plans for an electronic superhighway to 
exchange Texas medical records -- and expect an influx of federal 
dollars to help do it. Privacy advocates are already nervous about 
whether the state has the technology safeguards to keep these records 
out of hackers' hands.


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