The following notice was sent to Fred Hutch community members who were potentially affected by a data breach. Recognizing that we do not have contact information for all of our supporters, we are sharing the information here as part of our commitment to accountability and transparency. We greatly value our donors’ support of Fred Hutch, respect your privacy, and work hard to keep your trust.
On July 16, 2020, Fred Hutch was informed of a data security incident experienced by one of our trusted vendors, Blackbaud Inc., that impacted our donor database and may have involved personal information about supporters. Blackbaud is a well-respected provider of cloud and data services used by more than 25,000 organizations in more than 60 countries. Fred Hutch uses Blackbaud’s fundraising technology platform.
Blackbaud discovered a ransomware attack in May of 2020 that included our donor database, as well as those of other nonprofits. The company took time to determine which organizations were impacted. Blackbaud stated that its Cyber Security team — together with independent forensics experts and law enforcement — successfully prevented the cybercriminal from blocking Blackbaud’s system access. Blackbaud ultimately expelled the cybercriminal from its system. Prior to locking the cybercriminal out, however, the cybercriminal removed a copy of a backup file. (Read Blackbaud’s statement about the incident.)
Blackbaud has assured us that credit card information and banking information were not accessed by the cybercriminal and remain encrypted. However, Blackbaud determined that the information removed and presumably destroyed may have included: names; contact information, including telephone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, and mailing addresses; and a history of donor relationships with our organization, such as donation dates, amounts, and other information in donor profiles.
To protect personal customer data, Blackbaud paid the cybercriminal’s demand with confirmation that the removed copy had been destroyed. Based on the nature of the incident, Blackbaud’s research, and third party (including law enforcement) investigation, Blackbaud does not believe any data went beyond the cybercriminal, was or will be misused, or will be disseminated or otherwise made available publicly.
As part of ongoing efforts, Blackbaud states that it already has implemented several changes that will protect your data from any subsequent incidents. First, its teams identified the vulnerability associated with this incident, including the tactics used by the cybercriminal, and took action to fix it. Blackbaud has tested its fix with multiple third parties, including the appropriate platform vendors, and assured us that it withstands all known attack tactics. They also are accelerating their efforts to further protect data through enhancements to access management, network segmentation, deployment of additional endpoint, and network-based platforms.
We are notifying affected individuals about this incident consistent with our goal of being transparent. Fred Hutch already had increased center-wide security efforts before this incident occurred. You can also read our Donor Privacy and Confidentiality Policy here.
We want to emphasize again that Blackbaud has assured us that no credit card, bank account, or other information of that nature was compromised. However, as a best practice, we recommend that supporters remain vigilant by reviewing their account statements and credit reports closely and reporting any suspicious activities.
We deeply regret this incident occurred. While data breaches and ransomware attacks are becoming more common, this is not something Fred Hutch ever wants to happen to our valued supporters. The privacy of our supporters is of utmost importance to us.
Blackbaud has apologized to Fred Hutch and, on behalf of them and Fred Hutch, we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this incident may cause you. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact Kelly O’Brien, vice president of Philanthropy, at email@example.com or 206.667.5098.
We know that every gift made to Fred Hutch is a choice. Thank you for your support of our research to end cancer and other diseases. Cures start here because of your generosity, and we are dedicated to keeping your trust.