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Posts Tagged ‘healthcare’

Opt-out email security: A step towards better HIPAA Privacy Rule compliance

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

Breaches of electronic Personal Health Information (ePHI) from email communications amongst HIPAA covered entities, their business associates, and health care consumers reveals a common pattern. Patient records are often emailed unencrypted (see here, here and here), or sent to unintended recipients (examples here and here).  Poor email practices might also cause bulk emails (e.g., health newsletters, office closing notices etc.) to be sent without masking the names/emails of the recipients (see here). All of these can be breaches of HIPAA.

Email Breach

Email breaches continuously leak ePHI from healthcare

While not as prominently exposed by the media as hacking incidents, where large numbers of records can be compromised in a single attack, HIPAA violations owing to poor email practices proceed at steady rate. However, the consequences can be as just as problematic for the healthcare provider, despite the smaller number of exposed individuals. The insidious drip-drip-drip leakage of ePHI via improper email usage is often harder to handle and the sort of ePHI exposed can be subtle.

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Why Are Hackers Targeting Your Medical Records?

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Medical record theft is booming. Over the past few years, large scale breaches have become more common and increasingly severe. Last year in June, a hacker named thedarkoverlord was selling 650,000 US healthcare records as part of a long-running crime spree. The collection was listed on a deep web marketplace called the Real Deal for over $700,000 worth of Bitcoin.

A cancer treatment provider called 21st Century Oncology had 2.2 million patients records compromised in late 2015. The stolen data included patient names, the names of their doctors, social security numbers, insurance information, diagnoses and treatments. The company was required to notify all of the affected patients and they have also offered free credit protection for one year as partial compensation. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg. According to Bitglass, 113 million Americans were affected by healthcare data breaches in 2015. This is almost 10 times more than the previous year. The IDC’s Health Insights group predicted that one in three patients would be the victim of a breach in 2016. This trend is likely to continue or even intensify over the coming years.

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