In the ever-growing world of technological advancements, there is so much that can be done with data. With each day that passes, healthcare is moving from a physical means of data storage to a more computerized system. There are, however, problems that one has to deal with when going digital and this includes medical data breach.
What is a Medical Data Breach?
Medical data breaches are breaches in one’s health information or records stored in an electronic format. This information could be stored in a hospital’s online database, or a therapist’s computer, or even a family doctor’s. Almost any health facility is susceptible to a medical data breach and that is why it is one of the 21st century’s biggest issues.
The rate at which medical data breaches have taken place in recent years has greatly increased and has led to concerns by patients about the safety of their medical data stored electronically. It is so easy these days to copy medical data files in bulk once access is gained to a database unlike previously when data was stored physically in files. Copying medical data would previously involve photocopying a large amount of paperwork. Now it’s as easy as sticking a flash drive in a computer and copying a large number of files and data of individuals of different institutions. Data theft can even be done remotely from a computer, and you would never know they were there.
There are lots of examples to show the presence and effects of a medical data breach. Over 20 million patients have been affected in the AMCA healthcare data breach, including nearly 12 million patients of Quest Diagnostics, 7.7 million patients of LabCorp, and over 422,000 patients of Bio-Reference Labs (a subsidiary of OPKO). Personal data that was accessed by unauthorized third-party hackers include a mix of payment data, medical test data, and personally identifiable information (PII). The sheer size and scope of this AMCA healthcare data breach would make it one of the biggest ever, with the potential for significant risk for AMCA and the affected companies. Even worse, the data breach went undetected for more than eight months. This is just to show the extent to which a medical data breach can go.
Why Would Anyone Want Your Medical Data?
The most common reason for medical data theft is money. A person’s health information is worth over $1000 in the black market. This information when gotten could be used for various purposes which are mostly of criminal intent. They could be used to carry out identity theft or used to get illegal medications or used for false insurance claims and medical benefits.
A person’s medical information could also be used for political purposes or even blackmail. They could be used to open fake bank accounts, apply for loans, or even defraud companies. These are some of the reasons why your data might be stolen by internet fraudsters or hackers.
The effects caused by medical data breaches globally are very serious and can cause a lot of harm to the victim and these are some of the reasons data security must be taken seriously.
Ways to Prevent Medical Data Breach:
There are several ways to prevent a medical data breach. Security systems could be installed to alert the system when there is unauthorized access. Other ways include:
- Conducting a risk assessment
- Educating the public and physicians on medical data breaches and ways to prevent it.
- Make Use of data encryption
These are just some of the ways medical data breaches can be avoided. The effects of a medical data breach are real and harmful. It is also best to put countermeasures in place and prepare for attacks. Hopefully, in a few years, medical data breaches will be a thing of the past.