The University of Louisville in Kentucky on June 2 posted a public notice of a data breach in which protected health and financial information from its kidney disease program was posted on a publicly accessible Web site for 19 months.

According to local media reports, a physician who set up the site believed it was protected. Because of a programming error, the physician and an assistant entered data in October 2008 without knowing it was going on a public page. The site was not accessible without typing in the specific address, which would not be available through a search engine, a spokesperson told television station WLKY. What follows is the university's notice:

"The University of Louisville regrets to notify the public of an unfortunate incident where a database containing 708 names, Social Security numbers, type of dialysis received and access point for that dialysis was available on a website beginning October 1, 2008. This website could be accessed from outside the university. We became aware of this situation on May 17, 2010 and disabled the website. Access to the website was not easy and there were no direct links to the database.

"Our investigation found that a programming error did not include a 'log in' requirement for the website. We examined a similar computer program within the Kidney Disease Program and found that the code had been included.

"To prevent similar occurrences in the future, we have reviewed the electronic information paths for this division to prevent impermissible access and ensure that only the minimum information necessary for the appropriate and intended use is available. Also, we have reviewed the privacy and security training records to ensure the division's personnel have met the applicable requirements.

"We have contacted the affected patients or their next-of-kin. As a result of this unfortunate incident, we have made arrangements with a credit monitoring agency to provide the affected patients a year of credit monitoring at the university's expense.

"Patients and others who have further questions or concerns should call 502-852-0785 or write to the Kidney Disease Program at 615 South Preston Street, Louisville, KY, 40202-1718."

 

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