Report: 29 million patient records compromised in healthcare breaches


In 2013, two-thirds of healthcare data breaches involved electronic data, almost 60% theft and nearly 10% hacking.


Amid our latest bout with malicious hackers and network intrusions, even more data has emerged that will certainly put any doubts, if any remained, around the insignificance of proper security to rest — particularly in healthcare. According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers have revealed that approximately 29 million health records in the U.S. alone were affected by breaches between 2010 and 2013 — 67% of which were stored electronically.

Breaches

In order to conduct their investigation, the researchers sifted through a government database containing information about data breaches involving unencrypted health information reported by clinicians and health plans. What they found was that a majority of incidents (58%) were exposed through theft, while the rest came as a combination of hacks and carelessness, such as loss or improper disposal of data and unauthorized access of information. And, most of the time, these breaches were connected to laptops and mobile devices.

In 2013, the frequency of breaches that occurred through hacking, unauthorized access or unprivileged disclosure increased to 27%, up from 12% just three years prior. The researchers warn that this number will only continue to rise.

“Given the rapid expansion in electronic health record deployment since 2012, as well as the expected increase in cloud-based services… the frequency and scope of electronic healthcare data breaches are likely to increase,” the researchers note. “These security breaches could involve everything from health sensors and gene sequencing technology, to predictive analytics and personal health records.”

Want to delve deeper into the topic? You can find the entire report here. Meanwhile, as attack platforms increase in size and threats become more sophisticated in nature, how can you ensure that your network and its connected devices are indeed protected? Fortunately, you can take comfort in knowing that there are solutions already available to keep those digital systems not only smart, but robustly secured all at the same time.

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