Medical Breaches Plague the Healthcare Industry

Sep 2012

Medical Breaches Plague the Healthcare Industry

Posted by Zaid Rasid

Hazards AheadIn an earlier blog post this week, we talked about the possibility of data breaches on end point devices in the Healthcare industry. But how real is the threat? Let's have a look at a few of the breaches that have occurred recently.

  1. Over at Computer World, we learn about the infamous Wall of Shame, a government run website that hosts and lists all publically claimed data breaches in the US healthcare industry. The article states that close to 21M patient records have been compromised by a breach. Interestingly enough, theft was attributed to 54% of all causes for lost data including the largest breach at the Department of Defense health care program, where 4.9M records were lost when backup tapes went missing.
  2. In an ABC News investigation we learn about the scary repercussions behind storing unprotected medical records online. The report describes how unencrypted data is readily available online and how a novice with little technical knowledge can easily obtain this type of information. Again, the major culprit of lost data is theft, but this time we find evidence of insider deals where medical staff are paid off for the exchange of medical records later to be sold in a black market.
  3. Earlier this year, we learned about a hacked server at the Utah Department of Public Health. It is believed that approximately 280,000 victims had their social security numbers stolen and 500, 000 victims had less sensitive personal information stolen. And in a more recent case this same agency was hacked again, but with this time, no sensitive data lost.
  4. Finally, the Health Data Management website reports numerous data breaches in Healthcare. In this post, they talk about a stolen laptop with compromised information including social security numbers, names, addresses, dates of birth and more. Also, an Eye and Ear practice was fined $1.5M for security rule violations following the theft of an unencrypted laptop in 2012. The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Associates were fined $500,000 and ordered to comply under a resolution agreement and corrective action plan.

What Can We Learn from the Above?

For one thing, it is strikingly clear that data breaches in the Healthcare industry are real and prevalent. In a lot cases, breaches are caused by theft or lost tapes and are attributed in one way or another to human error or intervention. With the Healthcare industry embracing technology and especially mobile devices, is it paramount that they protect themselves from these security threats. Next week, we'll talk about the specific costs and implications of a data breach and we'll follow that up with a post on steps you can take to ensure you're safe.

In the meantime, you can learn more about how Asigra is securing endpoint devices in this recent white paper entitled, "Endpoint data protection solutions for Healthcare."

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