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St. Albert optometry centre involved in data breach

Personal information of patients may have been accessed in August

A St. Albert eye clinic was one of several victims in a data breach incident this past summer where patients' personal information may have been accessed.

On Aug. 5, an unauthorized person accessed the medical information of people who had recently made eye appointments at a dozen optometry centres throughout Alberta, including Stonewire Optometry on Bellerose Drive.

On its website, Stonewire stated 84 online booking accounts had been compromised and that they would be contacting everyone who was affected by the data breach. Their website also stated that they do not keep sensitive patient information such as Alberta Health Care numbers, credit card information or personal health information through its appointment management system.

In a Nov. 6 letter to patients posted to Stonewire's website, Dr. Ross McKenzie wrote information deemed to be compromosed from Stonewire could include full names, contact information and date of birth.

"It is unknown whether your email address and phone number may also have been breached, however, the initial investigation points to the fact that this information was not compromised," McKenzie, who is also the clinic's privacy officer, wrote.

The data breach happened after Luxottica of America Inc. experienced an online attack to its booking system. Luxottica is an owner and service provider to eyecare centres across the country, and its booking system is used by doctors across the continent, including Stonewire.

McKenzie wrote that Stonewire doesn't believe there is a significant risk of harm to patients, based on the type of information accessed and the fact Luxottica has not had any reports from patients yet that their personal data had been misused.

"Unfortunately, these types of attacks appear to be happening more frequently in our society. We ask that everyone always remain vigilant," McKanezie wrote.

Anyone affected by the data breach is entitled to contact the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta to investigate the incident.

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