Hackers stole UW medical records, Web site reports

Herald staff

SEATTLE — Information on thousands of patients at University of Washington’s medical center, including their Social Security numbers and medical procedures, was obtained in a computer break-in from overseas, a Web site on computer security reported Thursday.

The university confirmed that its computers had been penetrated earlier this year and said it was trying to determine what records had been compromised. It said the security breach might have involved databases maintained by researchers rather than those used in patient care.

The investigation began after SecurityFocus.com reported receiving a set of the medical center’s records from someone identifying himself as Kane, a 25-year-old Dutch man.

The site’s editorial director, Kevin Poulsen, said the records included the names, addresses and Social Security numbers of more than 4,000 cardiology patients, along with their medical procedures.

A second file contained similar information on 700 physical rehabilitation patients, he said, and a third chronicled every admission, discharge and transfer over a five-month period.

Poulsen said Kane told him he had hacked into the medical center to "expose its vulnerability," not to exploit patients.

A university spokesman, Tom Martin, said a hacker entered the pathology department’s computer system in June and had access until he was shut out in early July. The hacker resurfaced on Aug. 17, Martin said, and was blocked again on Sept. 1. Computer logs traced the intruder to the Netherlands.

  • Brother tossed baby, sheriff says: A 2-month-old baby boy found in a yard was not abandoned, but was tossed there by his 4-year-old brother, a Kitsap County sheriff’s officer said. The brother had taken the infant from his crib and tossed him over the fence into a neighbor’s yard, said Mike Davis, chief of detectives. The infant, found Monday evening, suffered a broken leg and a minor head injury. He was discharged Thursday from Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. The baby’s mother, roused from sleep by responding deputies, told them she hadn’t known the baby was missing. The mother said she was on two different kinds of pain medication.

  • Man won’t be charged in UW rape attempt: A man described as being fascinated with serial killer Ted Bundy can’t be charged in a reported rape attempt involving a University of Washington sorority member, police have concluded. Nothing places the 23-year-old man in the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority house where the attack was said to have occurred, Officer Clem Benton said. The man remains in jail pending trial Dec. 28 on escape and firearms charges. An 18-year-old sorority member said she was assaulted Sept. 23 in her room by a man wearing a nylon stocking over his head after she returned from a shower. He fled when other sorority members heard her scream and rushed into the room. Campus police stopped a man the next month for investigation of driving without a license, but he ran away as they searched his pickup and found handcuffs, leg irons, duct tape, a pair of women’s nylons and a gun with a filed-off serial number.

  • Election viewing hazardous to health: Alvin Batiste said he got so wound up in the presidential election, he nearly ended up in the hospital. The Portland man, 78, accidentally took a handful of his wife’s high blood pressure and diabetes medicine instead of his vitamins because he was trying to watch the Florida recount on TV. Batiste was busy sorting out his vitamins and his wife’s prescription medication at the kitchen counter when he made the mistake. "I got so engrossed in this election, trying to listen and see the TV in the living room, instead of taking my vitamins, I took her evening medication," Batiste said.

  • Lost teen found wounded: A 14-year-old boy missing for two days from his rural home near Wimer was found Thursday by his mother and sister, stumbling through the woods with a gunshot wound to the face. The boy was likely wounded when he fell and his gun accidentally went off, said Jackson County sheriff’s Deputy Joe Puckett. Bear Billie O’Farrell, a freshman at Rogue River High School, was lost for 41 hours in the woods behind his home. Searchers in the second day of looking through the foggy woods found the boy about 10 a.m., conscious and able talk with dried blood on his face and trauma to his left eye. He was taken to a Medford hospital.

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