UCLA Health released a statement Friday saying it was a victim of a data breach, estimating that up to 4.5 million patients could have been affected by the attack.

The cyber-attack involved portions of its network containing personal as well as medical information but UCLA Health said that it doesn't have evidence at the moment to prove that information had actually been acquired or at least accessed. The health system is now working with FBI investigators and has hired experts from a private computer forensics company to get to the bottom of the problem.

"Our patients come first at UCLA Health and confidentiality is a critical part of our commitment to care. We sincerely regret any impact this incident may have on those we serve," said Dr. James Atkinson, president and interim associate vice chancellor for the UCLA Hospital System, adding significant steps have already been taken to provide its network with further protection against data breaches.

Suspicious activity was first detected in the UCLA Health network last year in October, prompting an investigation assisted by the FBI. During that time, it was not apparent that the hackers had gained entry into parts of the network housing medical and personal information.

It was only on May 5 that UCLA Health found that the part of the network in question has been accessed, potentially exposing information like patient names, birth dates, addresses, Social Security numbers, health plan or Medicare ID numbers and others.

While UCLA Health still has no evidence showing patient information had been actually acquired or at least accessed, it is still offering possibly affected individuals with services for identity recovery and restoration to reduce risks. Protection tools for health care identity are also being provided while those whose Medicare ID numbers or Social Security numbers are stored in the affected portions of the network will be getting credit monitoring assistance. All of these are being offered for 12 months free of charge to affected individuals.

UCLA Health will also be sending letters out to affected individuals to provide them with details on how they can access the identity theft services being offered. A website has been established as well to facilitate information dissemination and patients with concerns can get in touch with a representative from UCLA Health weekdays through a special hotline.

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