Hospital Patient ID Theft to Rise in 2015

Hospital Patient ID Theft to Rise in 2015February 19, 2015 by Vickie Anenberg

Security experts are warning that in 2015, hospitals will likely experience a significant increase in breaches by hackers. Protecting medical records against cybercrime is now a key factor affecting every healthcare organization’s risk management program and financial wellbeing.

Banks and other financial institutions have been working for a number of years to significantly improve the security of their computer systems. The recent $1 billion international cyber thefts from banks is actually somewhat of an anomaly. They were the result of hacking into the institutions’ core systems to steal cash directly from ATMs and create fraudulent accounts set-up through malware.  

The standard security efforts to reduce the number of breaches, subsequent fraudulent use of customers’ credit cards and other personal financial information have been largely successful. They have made access by hackers increasingly difficult, and cybercriminals are not able to steal the volume of customer data they need; therefore, the value of what they do manage to hack is now worth far less.

This has prompted hackers to turn their sights on exploiting the healthcare industry, where they have found hospital and insurance company systems to be less secure.

Bob Gregg, CEO of ID Experts, recently told Reuters that each basic healthcare identity hacked can be worth $20.00 or more, and he went on to say such information is easy to market. Hospitals alone have tens of millions of patient records stored electronically, making their systems “low hanging fruit” ready for harvest by hackers. Numerous analysts also have noted that the potential for hacking extends well past servers to threatening personal and hospital-issued mobile devices.

Underestimating the value of data can be costly on two separate fronts. First, the government can and has levied heavy fines against healthcare providers who have had their data breached. Second, there is the real potential that current and future patients will turn to other providers they perceive as showing greater concern for protecting their identities. Therefore, reviewing your hospital’s security should be an ongoing top priority led by the CIO. Allocating resources for your medical record system’s security enhancements is expensive, but much more cost-effective than the financial impact of a massive data breach.

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