The Wyoming Department of Health announced Tuesday that health information for thousands of Wyoming residents was accidentally leaked online.
The exposed files included data from breath alcohol tests and COVID-19 and influenza tests that were electronically reported to the state for Wyoming residents, including name, address, date of birth, test results and dates of service for tests administered across the country since January 2020. The data did not contain social security numbers, or banking, financial or health insurance information.
“We are taking this situation very seriously and extend a sincere apology to anyone affected,” Director Michael Ceballos said in a statement.
According to the announcement, a department staff member “inappropriately handled the health information of approximately 164,021 Wyoming residents and others as early as November 5, 2020.” The files in question were uploaded to GitHub.com, a software development site where they could be accessed by the general public.
“While GitHub.com has privacy and security policies and procedures in place regarding the use of data on their platform, the mistakes made by the WDH employee still allowed the information to be exposed,” the announcement stated.
The Health Department became aware of the breach March 10 and started notifying potentially affected individuals Monday.
A special information line has been established at 833-847-5916. Residents who received a COVID-19 or influenza test between January 2020 and March 9, 2021 should call the information line to learn if their information was involved in the leak, the department said.
The Health Department is offering affected individuals one year of free identity theft protection through IdentityForce, an early warning system that notifies clients when their personal information is at risk. Details can be found at the same phone line.
“Because we are committed to the privacy and security of individuals’ protected health information, we have taken steps to help prevent further harm from this situation or similar circumstances from happening again,” said Jeri Hendricks, Office of Privacy, Security and Contracts administrator with the Health Department. An official notice about the situation can be found at Health.Wyo.gov/admin/privacy/.