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Protected health information is a type of sensitive data that is collected and maintained by healthcare organizations. It includes patient names, addresses, social security numbers, medical records, and other confidential information that is protected by law. When this information is not secured properly, it can fall into the wrong hands and be used for malicious purposes, such as identity theft, insurance fraud, or even blackmail. Are you protected and secure?
Let’s look at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Breach Portal for an idea of how many take place every day.
The medical industry has become a prime target for cyber criminals due to the valuable nature of PHI. This information can be sold on the black market for a high price, and the medical industry is often not as well-equipped to defend against these types of attacks as other industries. As a result, medical organizations are becoming more vulnerable to data breaches, which can have severe consequences for both patients and the organizations themselves.
One of the most famous data breaches in the medical industry was the 2017 Equifax breach (YOU where probably in this!), which affected over 145 million Americans. The breach was caused by a vulnerability in Equifax’s website software, which allowed hackers to gain access to sensitive information, including social security numbers, birth dates, and addresses. Equifax was fined and faced widespread criticism for not protecting its customers’ information. Another example of a data breach in the medical industry occurred in 2019 when a major healthcare organization was hacked. The breach resulted in the exposure of millions of patients’ PHI, including social security numbers, addresses, and medical records. The organization was fined for not adequately protecting its customers’ information, and the cost of the breach was estimated to be in the millions of dollars.
To prevent data breaches from occurring, medical organizations must take appropriate measures to protect PHI. This includes implementing strong security measures such as firewalls, antivirus software, and encryption technologies. In addition, organizations must train their employees on the importance of data security and best practices for protecting PHI. One of the most important steps that medical organizations can take to prevent data breaches is to implement a comprehensive risk assessment program. This program should identify areas of weakness within the organization, such as outdated software, lack of employee training, or lack of security measures. By identifying these areas of weakness, organizations can take steps to improve their security posture and reduce the risk of a data breach.
In addition to implementing security measures, medical organizations must also have an incident response plan in place in the event of a data breach. This plan should outline the steps that the organization will take to respond to the breach, including reporting the breach to law enforcement, communicating with affected individuals, and taking steps to prevent future breaches. Data breaches of unsecured protected health information are a serious concern in the medical industry. Medical organizations must take steps to protect PHI, including implementing security measures, conducting risk assessments, and having an incident response plan in place. By taking these steps, organizations can reduce the risk of a data breach and protect their patients’ sensitive information.
How to Prevent Data Breaches
The best way to prevent data breaches is to ensure that your data is secure. This means having strong security protocols in place, such as regularly scheduled malware scans, firewalls, and encryption. Additionally, it’s important to have an incident response plan in place in case of a breach. This includes having a response team ready to respond to any potential breaches. Advyon has the team and solutions for your industry.
How to Respond to a Data Breach
In the event of a data breach, it’s important to take quick action. This includes notifying the proper authorities, such as law enforcement, and notifying any affected individuals. Additionally, it’s important to take steps to prevent any further breaches, such as changing passwords and implementing additional security measures.