Protected health information for about 32,500 patients of Cottage Health System could have been exposed on the Internet for up to four years.

The Santa Barbara, Calif.-based delivery system is offering affected patients--treated at four hospitals--identity restoration services from ID Experts if any of the information is misused. Cottage Health on Dec. 2 discovered that a third-party vendor “appeared to have removed electronic security protections from one of its servers without informing Cottage, resulting in the exposure of certain information stored on the server,” according to an statement from the organization.

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