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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Data breach exposes 4.9 million Tricare patients

By Sig Christenson
San Antonio Express-News

One of the Pentagon's largest contractors said late Wednesday it had discovered a data breach affecting as many as 4.9 million patients who have received care from military facilities in San Antonio since 1992.

Science Applications International Corp. said the breach involved backup computer tapes from an electronic health care record. Some of the information included Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers and private health information for patients in 10 states.

A statement posted on the Defense Department's Tricare health system website said no credit card or bank account information was on the backup tapes.

Tricare covers military retirees as well as active-duty troops and their dependents.

“The risk of harm to patients is judged to be low despite the data elements involved since retrieving the data on the tapes would require knowledge of and access to specific hardware and software and knowledge of the system and data structure,” the website statement said.

Vernon Guidry, a spokesman for SAIC, a McLean, Va.-based scientific, engineering and technology applications firm, could not say when the data from the backup tapes was compromised.

The statement on Tricare's website, however, said the tapes contained information on patients visiting San Antonio military hospitals and clinics or had tests analyzed here from 1992 through Sept. 7. The San Antonio Military Medical Center, formerly BAMC, was apparently unaware of the breach.

The tapes held data on people living throughout Tricare's southern region, which includes Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas with the exception of El Paso.

The entire story can be read here.

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