Cybercrime , Fraud Management & Cybercrime , Governance & Risk Management

Hacking of DocGo Ambulance Service Exposes Patient Data

Mobile Medical Services Firm Tells SEC Incident Is Contained, Under Investigation
Hacking of DocGo Ambulance Service Exposes Patient Data
DocGo, which offers mobile medical services in 30 states and in the U.K., told the SEC that hackers accessed and acquired health data from its U.S.-based ambulance transportation operations. (Image: DocGo)

Hackers have stolen the personal information of patients of a New York-based ambulance service that does business in 30 U.S. states, according to a report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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DocGo, which provides mobile medical and transportation services in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, on Tuesday told the SEC it "recently" identified a cybersecurity incident involving some of its systems. The filing does not give the date the incident was discovered.

DocGo, which reported revenue of $624.2 million in 2023, told the SEC that so far, the cybersecurity incident has not had a material impact on the company's operations - and that the firm currently does not expect that it will have a material impact on its overall financial condition or on its ongoing results of operations.

"Promptly after detecting unauthorized activity, the company took steps to contain and respond to the incident, including launching an investigation, with assistance from leading third-party cybersecurity experts, and notifying relevant law enforcement," DocGo said.

The company's investigation so far has determined that the threat actor accessed and acquired data, including certain protected health information, from a limited number of healthcare records within DocGo's U.S.-based ambulance transportation business but that no other business lines have been involved.

Although the investigation is still ongoing, DocGo said so far it has found no evidence of continued unauthorized activity on its systems and that the company has contained the incident. "The company has started the process of providing notifications as required by applicable law," DocGo said.

As of Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights HIPAA Breach Reporting Tool website, which lists health data breaches affecting 500 or more individuals, does not show a report filed by DocGo.

DocGo declined Information Security Media Group's request for additional details pertaining to the breach, including the number of individuals whose PHI was compromised and whether the incident involved ransomware, IT system disruption or an extortion demand.

Other Ambulance Hacks

DocGo is certainly not the only provider of medical transportation services that has experienced a major hacking incident in recent months and years (see: Hacks Spotlight PHI Risks for Ambulance Cos., Vendors).

In one of the largest such incidents, Transformative Healthcare - which was acquired in 2022 by Massachusetts-based Coastal Medical Transportation System - in December 2023 reported to regulators that 912,000 individuals were affected by an early 2023 hack on archived records of Transformative's defunct Fallon Ambulance Services subsidiary (see: Hack on Defunct Ambulance Firm Affects 912,000 People).

Fallon Ambulance Services had previously provided emergency care in the Boston region and administrative services to affiliated transportation companies.

Also, in an earlier large hacking incident, Metropolitan Area EMS Authority, which does business as MedStar Mobile Healthcare and provides ambulance services in Tarrant County, Texas, reported in December 2022 to HHS OCR that a ransomware breach compromised the PHI of 612,000 individuals (see: Texas County EMS Agency Says Ransomware Breach Hit 612,000).

Such hacking incidents affecting medical transportation services providers are not unique to the U.S. healthcare sector.

In July 2023, a cyberattack against a Swedish software and services vendor Ortivus severed access to digital health records for at least two National Health Service ambulance services in the United Kingdom. Paramedics had to resort to using pen and paper to manage patient information during that outage (see: Software Vendor Attack Slows Down 2 UK Ambulance Services).

"Disruptive attacks on any organization that is directly or indirectly involved in the delivery of emergency services put lives at risk," said Brett Callow, threat analyst at security firm Emsisoft.

"I've no doubt that some threat actors do consider this but, in many cases, the possibility of scoring a massive ransom payment wins out," he said. "The reality is: The more ransom payments go up, the more extreme actions people are willing to take to collect them."

About the Author

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee

Executive Editor, HealthcareInfoSecurity, ISMG

McGee is executive editor of Information Security Media Group's media site. She has about 30 years of IT journalism experience, with a focus on healthcare information technology issues for more than 15 years. Before joining ISMG in 2012, she was a reporter at InformationWeek magazine and news site and played a lead role in the launch of InformationWeek's healthcare IT media site.

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