Healthcare data breaches hit 111 million Americans last year

In the last year there have been a number of data breaches involving the healthcare industry. These included high profile attacks such as those on Premera Blue Cross and Anthem compromising millions of records.

According to the 2016 Healthcare Breach Report from cloud access specialist Bitglass more than 111 million individuals' data was lost due to hacking or IT incidents in the US alone.

According to the findings 98 per cent of record leaks were due to large-scale breaches targeting the healthcare industry. These high-profile attacks were the largest source of healthcare data loss and indicate that cyber attackers are increasingly targeting medical data.

"The 80 per cent increase in data breach hacks in 2015 makes it clear that hackers are targeting healthcare with large-scale attacks affecting one in three Americans," said Nat Kausik, CEO, Bitglass. "As the IoT revolution compounds the problem with real-time patient data, healthcare organisations must embrace innovative data security technologies to meet security and compliance requirements".

The reason for the surge in attacks is that protected health information (PHI) - which includes sensitive information such as social security numbers, medical record data, and date of birth - has a high value on the black market.

When credit card breaches occur, issuers can simply terminate all transactions and individuals benefit from laws that limit their liability. However, victims have little recourse when subjected to identity theft via PHI leaks, and many are not promptly informed by providers that their data has been compromised. While criminals often make use of healthcare data for the purposes of identity theft, they can also leverage it to access medical care in the victim's name or to conduct corporate extortion.

More information can be found in the full report which is available to download from the Bitglass website.

Image Credit: Rob Hyron / Shutterstock