Customers of a New York-based ambulance service, Empress EMS, have had their information exposed in an apparent data breach. Threat actors initially gained access to Empress’s systems in May 2022. They then exfiltrated data and deployed encryption in July. Empress made no mention of the group that was responsible for the attack. However, analysts at BleepingComputer were able to attribute the incident to the Hive ransomware gang. The group has removed the Empress EMS entry from their site, but analysts have verified that it was published at some point. Some of the information that was accessed included patient names, dates of service, insurance information, and Social Security numbers. The total number of affected individuals is thought to be nearly 319,000, but that number may be higher. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has been notified of the incident, and Empress is offering free credit monitoring services for those that are impacted.
Empress has stated that they have improved their defenses in an effort to reduce the likelihood that they become a victim again in the future. As a reminder, the following steps should be taken to be better protected from ransomware attacks.
• Regularly back up data, air gap, and password protect backup copies offline.
• Ensure copies of critical data are not accessible for modification or deletion from the system where the data resides.
• Implement network segmentation.
• Implement a recovery plan to maintain and retain multiple copies of sensitive or proprietary data and servers in a physically separate, segmented, secure location (i.e., hard drive, storage device, the cloud).
• Install updates/patch operating systems, software, and firmware as soon as practical after they are released. Implement monitoring of security events on employee workstations and servers, with a 24/7 Security Operations Center to detect threats and respond quickly.
• Use multifactor authentication where possible.
• Use strong passwords and regularly change passwords to network systems and accounts, implementing the shortest acceptable timeframe for password changes.
• Avoid reusing passwords for multiple accounts.
• Focus on cyber security awareness and training.
• Regularly provide users with training on information security principles and techniques as well as overall emerging cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities.
Impacted individuals should take advantage of the credit monitoring services offered by Empress as well.