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Pharma giant's data breach exposes patients' sensitive information

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Pharma giant's data breach exposes patients' sensitive information

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U.S. pharmaceutical giant Cencora has been affected by a data breach. 

The company is notifying affected individuals that their personal and highly sensitive medical information was stolen during a cyberattack and data breach earlier this year. 

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This includes patient names, postal addresses, dates of birth as well as information about their health diagnoses and medications.

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Doctors in discussion (Cencora)

What happened: A breakdown of events

Cencora has not yet described the nature of the cyberattack. However, a report claims the attack began on Feb. 21 and was not publicly disclosed until the company filed notice with government regulators a week later on Feb. 27.

The pharmaceutical company, known as AmerisourceBergen until 2023, handles around 20% of the pharmaceuticals sold and distributed throughout the U.S. It’s unclear if Cencora has determined how many individuals have been affected by the breach. The company says it has identified and notified roughly half a million individuals affected by the data breach so far. However, Cencora acknowledged that it lacks complete address information for some affected people, so it published a notice on its website to reach them.

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The cyberattack on pharmaceutical giant Cencora came to light shortly after another attack that disrupted Ascension’s hospital network. However, a Cencora spokesperson says there’s “no connection” between their incident and the attacks on other health care providers.

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Emergency sign (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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Why should you care about the Cencora data breach?

Cencora is a major player in the U.S. health care industry. The $250 billion firm partners with some of the largest pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Genentech, Bayer, Regeneron, and Bristol Myers Squibb. The breach has affected at least 23 pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, suggesting a broader impact than initially reported.

If you provided any of these companies with your data, it’s possible that the breach has exposed it to the web. The number of individuals affected by the Cencora data breach is expected to be very high. Cencora states on its website that it has served at least 18 million patients to date, and it’s possible that the breach might have exposed the data of all these patients.

There may not be immediate harm from the data breach, but chances are your data is already in the hands of scammers on the dark web. They can use this data to scam, blackmail, and harass you. Since the data breach also leaks your address, scammers may try to scam you through the mail by asking for personal information or pretending to be a government authority.

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Doctor displaying drugs (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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The aftermath and response

Cencora completed its investigation into the breach on April 10, 2024. As part of its response, Cencora is offering 24 months of credit monitoring and remediation services to individuals whose information was involved in the incident. There is also an indication that a ransom may have been paid to prevent the leaked patient data from being released to the public.

Also, a class-action lawsuit has been filed against Cencora, alleging the company failed to properly safeguard patient data and delayed notifying affected individuals for nearly three months after discovering the breach.

We reached out to Cencora for a comment on this article but did not hear back before our deadline. 

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7 proactive steps to take in the face of health care cyberattacks

If you think you have been affected by the Cencora data breach, follow these steps to protect yourself and your personal data.

1. Stay informed: Keep up to date with the latest news from Cencora and other reliable sources to know the status of the systems and services.

2. Monitor your accounts and transactions: You should check your online accounts and transactions regularly for any suspicious or unauthorized activity. If you notice anything unusual, report it to the service provider or the authorities as soon as possible. You should also review your credit reports and scores to see if there are any signs of identity theft or fraud.

3. Use identity theft protection: Identity Theft protection companies can monitor personal information like your home title, Social Security Number, phone number and email address and alert you if it is being used to open an account. They can also assist you in freezing your bank and credit card accounts to prevent further unauthorized use by criminals. See my tips and best picks on how to protect yourself from identity theft.

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4. Change your passwords: Although Cencora says your personal details like phone number and email address haven’t been leaked, it’s still advisable to change your passwords. Consider using a password manager to generate and store complex passwords.

5. Vigilance against phishing: Be extra cautious of phishing attempts, as cyberattacks often lead to an increase in phishing emails and calls, trying to exploit the situation. The best way to protect yourself from clicking malicious links that install malware that may get access to your private information is to have strong antivirus protection installed on all your devices. This can also alert you of any phishing emails or ransomware scams. Get my picks for the best 2024 antivirus protection winners for your Windows, Mac, Android & iOS devices.

6. Be wary of mailbox communications: Bad actors may also try to scam you through snail mail. The data leak gives them access to your address. They may impersonate people or brands you know and use themes that require urgent attention, such as missed deliveries, account suspensions, and security alerts.

7. Invest in data removal services: While no service promises to remove all your data from the internet, having a removal service is great if you want to constantly monitor and automate the process of removing your information from hundreds of sites continuously over a longer period of time. Check out my top picks for data removal services here.

Kurt’s key takeaways

Cencora and the recent cyberattacks on health care institutions suggest there’s a serious lapse in their infrastructure. Criminals shouldn’t be able to exploit these systems so easily, especially when they contain crucial information about patients. However, you can be cautious on your end. A data breach cannot be reversed, but you can protect yourself from harm by being vigilant. Do not share your personal information with anyone, and avoid clicking on links you don’t trust.

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How do you evaluate the trustworthiness of websites and apps before providing your personal information? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.

For more of my tech tips and security alerts, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by heading to Cyberguy.com/Newsletter.

Ask Kurt a question or let us know what stories you’d like us to cover.

Follow Kurt on his social channels:

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Copyright 2024 CyberGuy.com. All rights reserved.

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Retail prices can jump in seconds with high-tech store price tags

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Retail prices can jump in seconds with high-tech store price tags

Have you noticed how technology is rapidly transforming our shopping experiences? From online marketplaces to self-checkout kiosks, the retail landscape is evolving at breakneck speed. Today, let’s explore one of the latest innovations set to shake up the way we shop for everyday items: digital price tags.

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Digital price tag (Walmart) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

The rise of smart pricing

Imagine walking into a store where prices change in real time, just like they do on your favorite shopping websites. Well, that future is closer than you might think. Retailers across the globe are experimenting with dynamic pricing systems, bringing the flexibility of online shopping to brick-and-mortar stores.

Retail prices can jump in seconds with high-tech store price tags

Digital price tags (Walmart) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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What’s driving this change?

Several factors are propelling this shift towards digital pricing. Stores can update thousands of prices instantly, saving time and labor. This improves accuracy, eliminating discrepancies between shelf prices and checkout totals. The system also allows retailers to quickly respond to market changes or competitor pricing. Additionally, there’s a sustainability angle, as digital tags reduce paper waste from traditional price tags.

Retail prices can jump in seconds with high-tech store price tags

Digital price tag (Walmart) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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The technology behind the change

Electronic shelf labels (ESLs) or digital shelf labels (DSLs) are at the heart of this retail revolution. These small, battery-powered e-paper displays are wirelessly connected to a central system, allowing for quick and easy price updates. But they’re more than just digital price tags; they’re a gateway to a more interactive shopping experience.

Retail prices can jump in seconds with high-tech store price tags

Digital price tags (Walmart) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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What can these smart labels do?

These smart labels are multifunctional devices. They can display prices and product information, show QR codes for additional details, guide store employees for restocking and assist with order fulfillment for online purchases. It’s like giving each product its own mini-computer.

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Retail prices can jump in seconds with high-tech store price tags

Showing how smart labels are multifunctional devices (Walmart) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

The potential impact on shoppers

This new technology could bring both benefits and challenges for consumers. On the plus side, we can expect more accurate pricing and the potential for better deals on soon-to-expire items. Shoppers will have access to more product information right at their fingertips.

There’s also a possibility of lower prices due to increased store efficiency. However, it’s not all rosy. We might see the introduction of dynamic pricing, similar to surge pricing in ride-sharing apps. This could lead to rapid price fluctuations. There are also privacy concerns with the increased data collection that comes with these systems.

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Retail prices can jump in seconds with high-tech store price tags

Digital price tags (Walmart) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Real-world examples: Who’s leading the charge?

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at some specific examples of how this technology is being implemented. America’s largest retailer, Walmart, recently announced plans to introduce digital shelf labels in 2,300 stores by 2026. Given Walmart’s massive market share in the U.S. grocery sector, this move could expose millions of shoppers to the technology.

According to Daniela Boscan, a Walmart food and consumable team lead, “A price change that used to take an associate two days to update now takes only minutes with the new DSL system. This efficiency means we can spend more time assisting customers and less time on repetitive tasks.”

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While Walmart’s announcement made headlines, they’re not the first to experiment with this technology. Other major players include Kroger, Whole Foods (owned by Amazon), Ahold Delhaize, and Schnucks, a Midwestern chain. A recent market study estimates that about 26% of grocers and general merchandisers were capable of using ESL technology in 2023, indicating a growing trend in the industry.

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Retail prices can jump in seconds with high-tech store price tags

Employee scanning digital price tag (Walmart) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

The great price-tag switcheroo

When a store decides to make the leap from traditional paper tags to digital ones, it’s not just a simple overnight change. It’s a massive undertaking that requires careful planning and execution. Picture this: a small army of workers descending upon the store, armed with digital price tags and determination.

These “price tag transformers” swarm the aisles, systematically replacing each paper tag with its high-tech counterpart. Shelf by shelf, aisle by aisle, the store undergoes a visible transformation. The familiar sight of paper tags gradually gives way to the sleek, uniform appearance of digital displays.

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Retail prices can jump in seconds with high-tech store price tags

Changing out paper tags for digital ones (Pricer) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

The bigger picture: Dynamic pricing everywhere

The adoption of digital price tags in grocery stores is part of a larger trend toward dynamic pricing in various industries. We’ve already seen this in ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft, airline tickets, live music, event sales and fast food, as evidenced by the recent Wendy’s controversy. This shift raises questions about how consumers will adapt to more fluid pricing structures in their day-to-day purchases.

Retail prices can jump in seconds with high-tech store price tags

Digital price tags (Walmart) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Kurt’s key takeaways

As we stand on the brink of this digital revolution in retail, it’s important to consider both the opportunities and the challenges it presents. On one hand, the increased efficiency and flexibility could lead to better shopping experiences and potentially lower prices. On the other hand, the introduction of dynamic pricing to everyday purchases might require a shift in how we approach our shopping habits.

As this technology rolls out, it’s crucial for you to stay informed and adapt your shopping strategies accordingly. Monitor price trends, take advantage of additional product information and provide feedback to retailers about your experiences.

What’s your take on this digital retail revolution? Are you excited about the potential benefits or concerned about the challenges? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.

For more of my tech tips and security alerts, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by heading to Cyberguy.com/Newsletter.

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Ask Kurt a question or let us know what stories you’d like us to cover.

Follow Kurt on his social channels:

Answers to the most asked CyberGuy questions:

Copyright 2024 CyberGuy.com. All rights reserved.

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