Hackers have found a new and very lucrative target: healthcare industry companies. The data breach issue is so troubling that the FBI just issued a federal law enforcement bulletin to healthcare industry companies warning of “malicious actors targeting healthcare-related systems”.
Last year, the healthcare industry accounted for 44 percent of all breaches according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, making it the first time the healthcare industry surpassed all other industries in this measure. In contrast, the financial services industry represented just 3.7 percent of the total in 2013.
In a 2013 survey conducted by ID Experts of 91 healthcare organizations, 90 percent of respondents had experienced a data breach in the previous two years; 38 percent had more than five incidents. Community Health Systems, a hospital operator, recently reported they were the victim of hackers who stole more than 4.5 million records that included patient names, addresses, Social Security numbers and birth dates.
Hackers want to obtain protected healthcare information (PHI) and personally identifiable information (PII) that crime rings can use to order medical goods and services then bill Medicare and Medicaid for those never-delivered items. Unfortunately, criminals are realizing these activities are more profitable than other crimes they might pursue.
Safeguarding Medical Records
As more and more medical records are digitized, these numbers may grow unless safeguards are adopted. Healthcare companies can take cues from the financial services industry to protect data, including:
- Cancel cards if lost: Insurance companies typically will reissue a new card with the same number if you lose your insurance card unlike credit card companies that will cancel the lost number and issue a new card with a new number.
- Behavioral analysis: Financial companies are alerted when there is unusual activity on your credit card. Healthcare companies could also adopt this type of behavioral analysis to get warned of suspicious activity.
- Industry cooperation: Healthcare companies are starting to gather together to tackle prevention, but they have a long way to go to adopt the safety nets of the financial services industry.
How to Use This Information
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What has your healthcare organization implemented to safeguard vital patient records from a hacker’s attack?