BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — Patient information from four southern West Virginia hospitals is part of information hacked from more than 200 hospitals in the U.S.

The Community Health System announced Monday information on 4.5 million patients from its computer network was taken earlier this year. The system’s hospitals in West Virginia are the Bluefield Regional Medical Center, Greenbrier Valley Medical Center in Ronceverte, Williamson Memorial Hospital and Plateau Medical Center in Oak Hill.

Bluefield Regional Medical Director of Marketing Becky Ritter released the following statement Monday evening from Community Health System:

“Limited personal identification data belonging to some patients who were seen at physician practices and clinics affiliated with Bluefield Regional Medical Center over the past five years was transferred out of our organization in a criminal cyber attack by a foreign-based intruder. The transferred information did not include any medical information or credit card information, but it did include names, addresses, birth dates, telephone numbers and social security numbers.”

Ritter said they have no reason to believe the data will ever be used. All impacted patients are being notified by mail and being offered free identity theft protection.

“Our organization believes the intruder was a foreign-based group out of China that was likely looking for intellectual property. The intruder used highly sophisticated methods to bypass security systems. The intruder has been eradicated and applications have been deployed to protect against future attacks. We are working with federal law enforcement authorities in their investigation and will support prosecution of those responsible for this attack,” Community Health System said.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in a statement that his office would protect those who may have had their information compromised.

“If you believe you were affected by this data breach, it will be very important to check your statements carefully,” Morrisey said. “Be on the lookout for things like being billed for medical items you never ordered or received, or if you’re being billed multiple times for certain procedures or items.”

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  • William101

    I recently listened to an extended news story on PBS about hacking, and the experts suggested that if a hacker wanted the info, they would get it. But most hackers go after what they call the low hanging fruit, i.e., the business with the weakest security systems. I hope the hospital records that were taken didn't meet the test of low hanging fruit!

    Then regarding a person's computer, they indicated that there is still some significant percentage of individual residential computers which don't have any security at all.

    For instance, a bank's electronic data security systems are regularly reviewed by the regulators, and banks are required to show they safekeep customer information.

  • Big Hooptie

    This was a national story. The hackers were Chinese - and likely another governmental hack.

    They have technological abilities to hack us that we can't defend yet. They've been targeting us for a couple years but Barry chooses to play golf.

  • Wayne

    Who benefits more from hacking and computer viruses? Although this is my conspiracy theory and I can't prove it, but those companies that provide virus protection and identity theft protection seem to be the winners when it comes to all of this. Maybe they either do it or encourage it????

  • D2

    So far the only comments here are calling for the death of hackers, blaming Obama, and a neutral observation. Sums up the progressive, forgiving bastion of Christianity known as Southern West Virginia.

    • Darren

      What does this have to do with Christianity or southern WV?

  • CaptainQ

    And under the new ObamaCare Law, all of our patient information will be stored online to share with other hospitals....

    THIS does NOT make me feel more secure at all......

    • Jim slade

      Incorrect...the emr mandate of "obamacare" does not require online sharing or cloud storage of patient data. But rather compilation in electronic format so it can easily be read, shared with other physicians and the patient

      • doc

        Let me assure you that with EMR nothing is easily stored shared or read with other physicians. Its the biggest waste of money I've ever spent
        in my practice and I count the days until I retire.

      • CaptainQ

        AND just as easily vulnerable to hacking too. Anything on any computer is capable of being hacked, just ask the people at Target.

  • Jerry

    In my humble opinion, all hackers when caught and convicted should be given the death penalty. It's time to get serious and start hammering these criminals seriously and with severe malice. So when will our legislators at both the state and federal level get busy? Hacking cost individuals and corporations worldwide so much. Recently, my credit card was hacked and used to shop locally at Wal-Mart, convenience stores, etc. They has videotaped surveillance of the cashier line and the subject. But the police and the bank said it wasn't worth their time. Unbelievable.

  • Raging Moderate

    Cyber crime is a growing problem. Keeps even the best tech support very busy.

    • Dumb Liberals

      It's a shame e BEST cyber-security engineers are Chinese nationals trained in the liberal bastions of higher education because m0r0ns like the m0r0n want to invite foreign students, legal and illegal, into the country. The dumbing down of America in full swing.