Hackers Are Coming for Your Healthcare Records -- Here’s Why

Lucas Mearian | Computer World | June 30, 2016

Data stolen from a bank quickly becomes useless once the breach is discovered and passcodes are changed. But data from the healthcare industry, which includes both personal identities and medical histories, can live a lifetime. Cyberattacks will cost hospitals more than $305 billion over the next five years and one in 13 patients will have their data compromised by a hack, according to industry consultancy Accenture. And a study by the Brookings Institution predicts that one in four data breaches this year will hit the healthcare industry.

The recent study by Brookings showed that, since late 2009, the medical information of more than 155 million Americans has been exposed without their permission through about 1,500 breaches. The Brookings research demonstrates that the healthcare sector is uniquely vulnerable to privacy breaches. For one thing, government regulations forced healthcare operations to adopt electronic health records (EHR) and other advances under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) even if they weren't ready to adequately invest in security.

Healthcare records also contain the most valuable information available, including Social Security numbers, home addresses and patient health histories -- making them more valuable to hackers than other types of data, according to the study by the Brookings Institution's Center for Technology Innovation. Since cybercriminals can sell data for a premium on the black market, hackers have a big incentive to focus their attacks on the healthcare industry...