Hackers compromise medical data

Medical records have become a significant target of data thieves, according to Jessica Meyers writing in the Boston Globe. “Criminals are stealing patient records to file fake insurance claims, obtain prescription medication, or sell Social Security numbers,” she writes.

She cites Identity Theft Resource Center figures showing that in 2013, the health care industry accounted for 43.8% of data breaches, vs. 34.4% for business (excluding banking, credit, and financial businesses, which accounted for 3.7%).

The opportunities for hacking increase as healthcare goes digital. Meyers writes, “The Obama administration, in conjunction with the passage of a 2009 health IT law, has doled out at least $24 billion to spur the transition from paper records to digital ones. The technological push expands opportunities for misuse to smartphone and computers.”

Meyers notes that hacked healthcare data can lead to inaccurate medical records (and thus potential misdiagnosis) as well as financial loss. She quotes Eva Velasquez, the president of the Identity Theft Resource Center, as saying, “It’s not just medical identity theft that can be committed with a medical profile; it’s every type of identity theft. In a lot of ways, it’s a one-stop shop for the thief.”

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