HHS’ Office for Civil Rights settles malicious insider cybersecurity investigation for $4.75 million

Feb. 8, 2024
The OCR Settlement with Montefiore Medical Center resolves multiple potential HIPAA Security Rule Violations.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR), announced a settlement with Montefiore Medical Center for several potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Security Rule.

The $4.75 million monetary settlement and corrective action resolves multiple potential failures by Montefiore Medical Center relating to data security failures by Montefiore that led to an employee stealing and selling patients’ protected health information over a six-month period.

In May 2015, the New York Police Department informed Montefiore Medical Center that there was evidence of theft of a specific patient’s medical information. The incident prompted Montefiore Medical Center to conduct an internal investigation. It discovered that two years prior, one of their employees stole the electronic protected health information of 12,517 patients and sold the information to an identity theft ring. Montefiore Medical Center filed a breach report with OCR.

OCR’s investigation revealed multiple potential violations of the HIPAA Security Rule, including failures by Montefiore Medical Center to analyze and identify potential risks and vulnerabilities to protected health information, to monitor and safeguard its health information systems’ activity, and to implement policies and procedures that record and examine activity in information systems containing or using protected health information. Without these safeguards in place, Montefiore Medical Center was unable to prevent the cyberattack or even detect the attack had happened until years later.

Under the terms of the settlement, Montefiore Medical Center will pay $4,750,000 to OCR and implement a corrective action plan that identifies certain steps toward protecting and securing the security of protected health information. These actions include:

  • Conducting an accurate and thorough assessment of the potential security risks and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronic protected health information;
  • Developing a written risk management plan to address and mitigate security risks and vulnerabilities identified in the Risk Analysis;
  • Developing a plan to implement hardware, software, and/or other procedural mechanisms that record and examine activity in all information systems that contain or use electronic protected health information;
  • Reviewing and revising, if necessary, written policies and procedures to comply with the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules; and
  • Providing training to its workforce on HIPAA policies and procedures.

OCR will monitor Montefiore Medical Center for two years to ensure compliance with the law.

HHS release