Patient Data Security Beyond Privacy Regulations

6 Things to Know about Patient Data Security

You’re probably aware of the risks of cyberattacks and identity theft. What you may not know is that patients’ medical records — even more than Social Security numbers and credit card information — are a primary target of these attacks.[1] Here’s what you may not know about risks to your patients’ — and your practice’s — data.

  1. When a patient has tests, such as an X-ray or another scan, and has results burned onto a CD, this disc may have autorun files (files that automatically run upon disk insertion) that make the information on it more vulnerable to attack.[2]

  2. Nearly 90% — yes, you read that right — of healthcare organizations suffer from data breaches, according to a Ponemon Institute study.[3] The vast majority of those are the result of criminal attacks aimed at getting patients’ medical information to use to fraudulently purchase equipment or medication, which can later be resold.

  3. The medical community is not fully aware of the extent of the threat: The Ponemon study noted that 62% of respondents say they are not aware or are unsure of any medical identity theft affecting their patients.[4]

  4. Healthcare organizations think employee training can prevent most identity theft.

  5. A lack of spending on cybersecurity may be making hospitals and other healthcare institutions more vulnerable to these types of attacks.

  6. The risks of cyberattacks on patient data aren’t only financial. Having compromised computer data may also affect patients’ dosage, lab results and treatment information.[5]

As with most threats, the first step in preparing yourself is to be aware that you could be a target. To learn more about cybersecurity, read “Top 10 Tips for Cybersecurity” at

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Important Legal Disclosures and Information

  1. Reuters, 2014 []

  2. Princeton University Center for Information Technology Policy, 2012 []

  3. Ponemon Institute, 2016 []

  4. ID Experts and Ponemon Institute, 2016 []

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