While law enforcement officials investigate reports of a data breach, the Virginia Department of Health Professions are urging anyone who could be affected to watch vigilantly for signs of identity theft for the next 12 to 24 months.
On April 30, the Website of the DHP's Prescription Monitoring Program was defaced with a message stating more than 8 million patient records had been stolen and were being kept in an encrypted, password-protected file. The message demanded that the state pay $10 million to get access to the data, which the hacker or hackers claimed to have deleted from the state's repositories.
In a statement, however, DHP Director Sandra Whitley Ryals refuted claims that the records had been deleted. All the data was backed up and is secured, she said.
"A criminal investigation is currently underway regarding a potential security breach of the Virginia Department of Health Profession's ... Prescription Monitoring Program on Thursday, April 30," Ryals said. "While DHP cannot comment directly on an ongoing investigation, we can assure the public that all precautions are being taken for DHP operations to continue safely and securely. ... We are satisfied that all data was properly backed up and that these backup files have been secured."
The Prescription Monitoring Program was implemented in Virginia in 2003 as a way for pharmacists and health care professionals to monitor abuse of prescription drugs.
People who fear they may have been affected by the breach can visit the DHP Website for more information. The Website for the Prescription Monitoring Program remains unavailable.