FBI warns healthcare companies they are targeted by hackers

BOSTON Wed Aug 20, 2014 3:19pm EDT

BOSTON Aug 20 (Reuters) - The FBI has warned that healthcare industry companies are being targeted by hackers, publicizing the issue following an attack on U.S. hospital group Community Health Systems Inc that resulted in the theft of millions of patient records.

"The FBI has observed malicious actors targeting healthcare related systems, perhaps for the purpose of obtaining Protected Healthcare Information (PHI) and/or Personally Identifiable Information (PII)," the agency said in a "Flash" alert obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.

"These actors have also been seen targeting multiple companies in the healthcare and medical device industry typically targeting valuable intellectual property, such as medical device and equipment development data," the one page document said.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security periodically release such alerts to provide U.S. businesses with technical information they can use to either prevent or identify cyber attacks.

The FBI's alert to healthcare companies did not identify any specific victims targeted by hackers. An agency spokesman declined comment when asked about the document.

Community Health Systems, the No. 2 U.S. publicly traded hospital operator, disclosed the attack on Monday, saying stolen data included patient names, addresses, birth dates and Social Security numbers. (Reporting by Jim Finkle. Editing by Andre Grenon)