January was not a particularly bad month for electronic health record (EHR) breaches. Still, in just those 31 days, nearly a half-million records were exposed to unauthorized viewers.
According to the HIPAA Journal, the top four breaches in January were all the result of hacking or an IT incident, exposing more than 387,000 records. While these numbers pale in comparison to the tens of millions of records involved in recent credit bureau and social media hacks, the sensitive nature of the records amplify the damage done.
What's more, the number of records lost to hacking or IT incident has steadily increased year over year since 2009 (though authors of the "January 2018 Healthcare Data Breach Report" note that at least some of that increase could be due to a lack of reporting in earlier years).
The reports points to several reasons why healthcare breaches continue to occur. First, they're valuable records that have currency with criminals and nation-state actors. Next, healthcare organizations come in a dazzling array of sizes, with an equivalent array of IT security skill levels at their service. Finally, almost every step along the records trail involves a human, and humans are infamously fallible. So what's a conscientious organization to do?
In this article, we look at seven ways to better secure this sensitive healthcare data. This is far from an exhaustive list, but each one is something that an organization can reasonably do to reduce its risk. Of note, many of these points can be applied to any organization with sensitive data to protect.
Have you found other steps worth taking to protect sensitive data? What have you tried and found effective? Let us know in the comments section, below.
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Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio