Florida Health Department Data Breach: Cyberattack Claims Access

Jul 08, 2024 at 01:00 pm by Matt

The Florida Health Department faces a serious cybersecurity breach as hackers allege access to sensitive data. Led by Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo alongside Gov. Ron DeSantis, the department oversees county health departments and licenses for healthcare professionals.

Hackers from RansomHub have asserted responsibility for breaching the Florida Health Department, claiming access to 100 gigabytes of potentially sensitive data. They demand an undisclosed ransom to prevent data release. This breach is alarming due to the department's storage of sensitive information, including COVID-19 vaccine records, controlled substance prescriptions, and medical marijuana patient data.

Florida Health Department Responds To Cyber Threat

A spokesperson confirmed the department encountered a "potential cyber incident," with details still unclear. The Times/Herald has been pursuing information since Friday, highlighting the criticality of the department's data, among the state's most sensitive.

Hackers set a ransom deadline for Friday, threatening data release if demands aren't met. Florida’s government adheres to a strict no-ransom policy for such incidents.

Impact On Florida Health Department Services

The cyberattack notably affects the Vital Statistics system, used for issuing birth and death certificates. The Times/Herald reported tax collectors' offices and funeral homes unable to issue these certificates since last week. However, two Pasco County health offices regained this ability by Wednesday.

Department of Health press secretary Jae Williams noted coordination with law enforcement and stakeholders, promising notifications post-assessment.

Broader Implications For Florida’s Cybersecurity

This incident reflects rising ransomware threats against state and local governments nationwide, particularly notable in Florida. Governor DeSantis' establishment of a cybersecurity agency, led by a former state lawmaker without cybersecurity training, led to top experts resigning, leaving Florida without a chief information officer.

In recent years, state agency breaches exposed information on over 10 million Floridians, including Social Security and driver’s license numbers. Affected individuals received credit monitoring services.

Navigating The Fallout

The Florida Health Department navigates fallout from a severe cyberattack under Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo's leadership, prioritizing data security amid escalating ransomware threats. As Florida continues bolstering cybersecurity defenses, ensuring sensitive information protection remains crucial.

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