A hospital here in Eastern Carolina is one of 206 facilities where patients may have been exposed to a data breach.
Community Health Systems announced Monday that hackers have broken into its computers and got away with information on 4.5 million patients.
Community Health operates Martin General Hospital in Williamston.
CNN says anyone who received treatment at doctor's offices tied to the hospital in the past five years is affected. Hackers got names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birthday and telephone numbers.
The hospital system says the hackers in China used high-end sophisticated malware to launch attacks between April and June.
Martin General statement
Limited personal identification data belonging to some patients who were seen at clinics owned by Martin General Hospital over the past five years was transferred out of our organization in a criminal cyber attack by a foreign-based intruder. The transferred information did not include any medical information or credit card information, but it did include names, addresses, birthdates, telephone numbers and social security numbers.
We take very seriously the security and confidentiality of private patient information and we sincerely regret any concern or inconvenience this event may cause for our patients. Though we have no reason to believe that this data would ever be used, all affected patients are being notified by letter and offered free identity theft protection.
Our organization believes the intruder was a foreign-based group out of China that was likely looking for intellectual property. The intruder used highly sophisticated methods to bypass security systems. The intruder has been eradicated and applications have been deployed to protect against future attacks. We are working with federal law enforcement authorities in their investigation and will support prosecution of those responsible for this attack.
Many American companies and organizations have been victimized by foreign-based cyber intrusions. It is up to the Federal Government to create a national cyber defense that can prevent this type of criminal invasion from happening in the future.