Health Data Breaches: Bad, But Not the Worst

August 20, 2010

Personal data breaches among healthcare providers have certainly been making headlines lately. But, the industry isn’t doing so badly when compared with other sectors.

Personal data breaches among healthcare providers and organizations have certainly been making headlines lately. But, the industry isn’t doing so badly when compared with other sectors.

A new study by Verizon and the U.S. Secret Service actually found that healthcare accounted for the least amount of data breaches. The industry accounted for just 3 percent of data breaches, compared with the financial services sector which represented 33 percent, HealthLeaders Media reports.

Rounding out the Top 5 are hospitality (23 percent), retail (15), manufacturing (6) and tech services (5).

But don’t get too excited. Healthcare’s blunders have been publicized thanks to the fact that the Office of Civil Rights is now publishing online breaches of unsecured protected health information affecting 500 or more individuals. There’s a list of 138 entities on that site, including AvMed Inc., whose breach affected 1.22 million people thanks to a stolen laptop, HealthLeaders Media notes.

The data breaches report found that about half were caused by insiders. Forty-percent were from hacking and 15 percent comprised physical attacks. And 96 percent were deemed avoidable through simple or immediate controls.

One such control? Disk encryption. This software encrypts the data on your computer hard drive so that if it lands in someone else’s hands, the thief won’t be able to remove the contents, or potentially even see the disk’s basic layout. Read more about it here, and for more on computer security and identity theft, check out this article.