While technology has done wonders for improving our health, it has also made us become more vulnerable in this day-and-age of non-stop cyber attacks.
While 2017 started off relatively quiet for healthcare data breaches, there was a dramatic surge in March.
According to the Protenus Breach Barometer, security incidents spiked and the number of patient records breached rose.
In fact, March had more than 2.5 times the number of breached records than January and February combined.
A total of 39 separate breach incidents took place in March, affecting 1,519,521 patient records.
According to the online Breach Portal maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights, the top five offenders in March were:
- 697,800 individuals affected: Commonwealth Health Corporation, a healthcare provider in Kentucky (type of breach: theft)
- 279,663 individuals affected: Urology Austin, PLLC, a healthcare provider in Texas (type of breach: Hacking/IT incident involving a network server)
- 85,995 individuals affected: VisionQuest Eyecare, a healthcare provider in Indiana (type of breach: Hacking/IT incident involving a network server)
- 80,270 individuals affected: Washington University School of Medicine, a healthcare provider in Missouri (type of breach: Hacking/IT incident involving email)
- 65,000 individuals affected: Primary Care Specialists, Inc., a healthcare provider in Tennessee (type of breach: Hacking/IT incident involving a network server)
Breaches took place in 20 states; Texas had the most incidents (six); California, Kentucky, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Tennessee each had three, according to the Breach Barometer.
The Protenus Breach Barometer is a monthly snapshot of reported or disclosed breaches impacting the healthcare industry, with data compiled and provided by DataBreaches.net. The Barometer’s analysis is based on “incidents either reported to HHS or disclosed in media or other sources during March 2017,” according to protenus.com. The report provides some great nuggets of analysis:
- “Insiders were responsible for 44 percent of March’s total breach incidents (17 incidents), affecting 179,381 patient records.”
- “Hacking accounted for a significant percentage of records and incidents (11 incidents accounted for 28 percent of total incidents).”
- “So far in 2017, third-party breaches have represented a substantial portion of total breached patient records, 82 percent in January and 21 percent in February. However, in March third-parties were only responsible for 3 percent (one incident) of total breached patient records.”
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