What Is the True Cost of a Health Care Data Breach?

The health care industry has remained the top data breach target for eleven years in a row. Highly sensitive and personally identifiable information (PII) held by health care systems is an attractive target. After all, it contains all the information used for identity theft. In addition, that data may be stored on less secure networks than systems in other highly regulated industries. Data protection becomes more complex in a health care environment where a large number of computers, devices and medical equipment must be secured. In addition, attackers can take advantage of health care data created throughout the course of patient care. Health care data breaches are even more insidious because they have the potential to cause great harm to victims.

What Is a Health Care Data Breach?

A health care data breach is an event where names, medical records, financial records or payment methods are at risk through access to electronic or paper files. Data may be stolen, damaged (corruption) or deleted due to either an internal threat actor’s negligent or intentional actions or through a cyber attack. Health care data breaches commonly begin from compromised login credentials or through phishing attacks. 

Well-Known Health Care Data Breaches

Cyber criminals targeted a large insurance company in 2015, gaining access to Anthem Inc. computer systems and stealing the PII of more than 78 million people. Stolen data included names, home addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, health care system ID numbers, email addresses, employment information and income. The insurer failed to encrypt highly sensitive information, which made it easier to steal once cyber criminals entered the syst ..

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