Massive data breach at Arnprior Regional Health

Arnprior Regional Health in Arnprior, Ont. is reporting a massive data breach. (Dylan Dyson/CTV News Ottawa)

Arnprior Regional Health says a cyber attack compromising data dating back decades has taken place.

The health network says they became aware of the hack on its IT system on Dec. 21, 2021. Information including names, dates of birth, contact information, health card numbers, recent hospital visits, and diagnoses.

ARH says the earliest information accessed dates back to April 1996 and could affect past patients in Arnprior, those who visited the local emergency room, people who had a COVID test or attended mass vaccination clinics in Renfrew County, as well as people who have been on physician waitlists or who were contacted by flu shot clinics.

A full list of those whose data my have been compromised can be found on the Arnprior Regional Health website.

In an age where data is the new currency, technology analyst Carmi Levy says data breaches like these are a dime a dozen now.

"Usually when there's a breach like this the data ends up being sold online," Levy tells CTV News Ottawa. "It ends up on dark websites, being shared with criminal elements."

While some may believe that much of their personal information is already publicly accessible through social media, Levy says a combination of personal information and sensitive medical data could leave people exposed to personal and financial attacks.

"So at worst it will be used to target you in the future," Levy explains. "You might receive an identity theft attack or be on the receiving end of an identity theft attack."

In an age where cyber security is constantly being breached, Levy is shocked at the scale of the hack that took place at Arnprior Regional Health.

"The scope and breadth and depth of this information that was compromised in this particular event is quite breathtaking and it is concerning. It goes back decades. It covers some very sensitive health care related information. In the wrong hands it could be very devastating."