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Ransomware Attack Locks Eyecare Practice’s Computer Systems for Over 2 Weeks

The practice chose not to deal with the hackers.

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BEAVER TOWNSHIP, OH — A ransomware attack left Eye Care Associates Inc. without the use of its computer systems for more than two weeks.

Hackers hit the systems on July 28, The Business Journal of Youngstown, OH, reports. The publication reported on Aug. 14 that, according to Mary Jo Sierra, director of operations for the practice, the systems were expected to be restored “in the next day or two.”

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A report filed with the Beaver Township Police Department stated that “unknown computer hacking software had taken control of the entire Eye Care Associates computer system and locked them out until unknown ransom was paid.”

The police report said the system was infected with a virus that appeared to have originated in North Korea.

The practice chose not to reply that would tell them how much they must pay to regain access to the computer system, the Business Journal reports.

“Once the directors of Eye Care Associates were told that there were valid backup copies [of the data], they decided to restore the system on a brand-new environment,” Ronald Lipinski of Global Business Solutions Corp., which handles data storage and backups for the practice, was quoted saying.

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The attack was disruptive for the ophthalmology and optometry practice. One patient told the Business Journal that he called for an appointment and was told that it could not be set because the computer system was down.

Read more at The Business Journal

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These Eyeglasses Block Facial Recognition Technology (VIDEO)

They’re called IRpair and Phantom.

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Chicago startup firm Reflectacles is creating eyeglasses to thwart facial recognition technology, Chicago Inno reports.

The company is raising money via Kickstarter for its latest products, called IRpair and Phantom. They’re expected to be delivered in April.

Chicago Inno reports that they “block 3D infrared facial mapping during both day and night and block 2D video algorithm-based facial recognition on cameras with infrared for illumination.”

Company founder founder Scott Urban says he’s heard from people in other countries who want to stay out of facial recognition data banks while participating in protests.

So far, about $34,000 has been pledged on Kickstarter from 193 backers.

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Optical Product Firm Looks North to a Whole New Market

It will distribute contact lenses in Canada.

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CORAL SPRINGS, FL – ABB Optical Group, a provider of optical products and business solutions in the eyecare industry, announced its expansion into the Canadian market.

Beginning in 2020, ABB Optical will distribute contact lenses in Canada, starting with servicing FYidoctors, Canada’s largest doctor-owned provider of eyecare and ophthalmic products and services, and Independent Alliance clinics.

The company stated in a press release: “According to ABB OPTICAL’s market intelligence, eye care professionals in Canada have not had the opportunity to benefit from contact lens consolidation and business management best practices with one distributor – a common model in the United States which provides efficiency, cost savings, and better, faster service for practices and patients.”

“We are excited about our expansion into the Canadian market and look forward to serving the country’s eye care professionals,” said ABB Optical CEO Tom Burke. “We have seen time and time again that efficient contact lens supply chain management can help improve patient care. Benefits to a practice include lowered costs, administrative time savings and improved turn-around time for patients to receive their lenses.”

Burke added that ABB Optical’s expansion into Canada also benefits the Canadian economy, stating, “In addition to servicing eye care professionals, we’re excited to be making a substantial economic investment in Canada. ABB OPTICAL will operate its own Canadian distribution center which will house inventory, and our expanded business will provide job opportunities for Canadians.”

FYidoctors’ CEO and Chairman Dr. Alan Ulsifer said, “ABB’s entrance into Canada will bring incredible benefits to Canadian optometrists. The company’s proven systems of single source ordering, direct to patient delivery, and business solutions and services will help Canadian optometrists thrive in a market that continues to be challenging. We are very excited and proud to be their first customers.”

ABB Optical noted that it “also offers other business solutions for the optical industry that could benefit Canadian eye care professionals in the future, such as lens fabrication, ophthalmic lens distribution, frames distribution, practice development strategies, a data and analytics platform, and gas permeable contact lens manufacturing.”

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89-Location Optometry Network Acquired

It operates in Arizona and Florida.

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ST. LOUIS – EyeCare Partners LLC, a network of medical optometry and ophthalmology practices, announced that it has completed the acquisition of Nationwide Vision, a full-service vision care provider.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition “continues to strengthen ECP’s network of free-standing optometric offices in fast-growing regional markets,” according to a press release.

Nationwide, headquartered in Chandler, AZ, operates 89 optometry offices throughout Arizona and Florida offering eyecare services and eyewear products. The company has over 780 employees, including full-time optometrists who perform more than 250,000 comprehensive exams annually.

“Nationwide is exceptionally well respected in Arizona and Florida, where its premier eye health services, consistent value and broad assortment of fashionable eyewear are experiencing strong demand from existing and new customers,” said Kelly McCrann, CEO of ECP. “We are thrilled Nationwide’s entire team, and especially its leader Al Bernstein, has joined ECP. We look forward to leveraging Nationwide’s deep experience with managed vision plans to help expand ECP into new markets.”

Bernstein said, “All of us at Nationwide Vision are excited about our opportunity to partner with EyeCare Partners. ECP has a reputation for being a superb business partner and we are eager to leverage its capabilities to pursue expansive growth in Arizona and Florida, two of the fastest-growing markets in the U.S.”
With 12 optometric and ophthalmic acquisitions in 2019, ECP now operates across 12 states throughout the Midwest, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, as well as the Southwest with the addition of Nationwide. ECP supports the growth of its practices with revenue cycle management, purchasing, marketing, human resources, recruiting, training, IT and other business functions.

“With the Nationwide team, we look forward to providing patients with the ultimate in eye care in
Arizona and Florida,“ said Dr. James J. Wachter, chief professional officer of ECP.

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