Twenty-six percent of Americans Have Health Data BreachedIn the recent research study by Accenture, 2017 Consumer Survey on Healthcare Cybersecurity and Digital Trust, it was discovered that more than one in every four US healthcare consumers had their digital healthcare data stolen.

While data breaches have been in the news for years now, it is notable that cyber criminals are now targeting health data.

“These breaches will keep happening because the healthcare industry has built so many systems with thousands of weak links,” said Dr. Deborah Peel, founder of Patient Privacy Rights in Austin, Texas.

Medical Identity Theft: A Deadly Side Effect of Healthcare Data Breaches

Not only do hackers target healthcare because as they say, the lion wakes up every morning and must run faster than the slowest gazelle, but the value of the health data that they can compromise is exceedingly high.

According to an article in Infosec Institute, “While stolen credit card numbers tend to be sold for a few dollars or even quarters, a set of Medicare ID numbers for 10 beneficiaries found online by Greg Virign, CEO of the security company RedJack, was being sold for 22 bitcoins, or about $4,700.”

Despite these trends in cyber security, I suspect that most individuals will find it surprising that breaches of their health data are so prevalent. Very few people, even privacy experts, are aware of the prevalence and severity of medical identity theft and fraud.

Accenture’s Reza Chapman sums up the situation as follows. “Health systems need to recognize that many patients will suffer personal financial loss from cyberattacks of their medical information. Not only do health organizations need to stay vigilant in safeguarding personal information, they need to build a foundation of digital trust with patients to help weather the storm of a breach.”