HIPAA Threats Update
by Brandon Rodriguez
2017 has been a record year for healthcare data breaches. Breaches have happened all over the country and have affected both large and small practices. Over 1 million healthcare records have been exposed due to a breach this year. The causes of the breaches have ranged from phishing, ransomware, and employee error. Below are some of the major breaches of the first quarter.
Washington University School of Medicine
Washington University School of Medicine was a victim of a cyber attack early this year. This incident just goes to show that even the largest databases can be vulnerable to cyber threats. Hospital records including Protected Health Information (PHI) of over 80,000 patients were breached.
This breach was the result of Phishing. Phishing is the act of sending fraudulent emails to deceive end users into providing passwords and other otherwise private info. How often do phishing attacks occur? Everyday. In fact, over 8,000,000 phishing emails are opened each day. Washington University School of Medicine was just one of the many.
January was a big month as Urology Austin PLLC also reported a cyber attack. This was a result of ransomware. The attack was identified within minutes and the damage was limited. Nevertheless, the data on the servers were encrypted by ransom ware. An investigation found that the infection was caused by a malicious email.
Urology Austin has begun reaching out to the 279,663 patients who were potentially affected. As an act of assurance, Urology Austin will be providing identity theft monitoring services to its patients and has updated its system backups.
Another victim to cyber threat was ABCD Pediatrics in San Antonio, Texas. This cyber attack was yet another case of ransomware. The names, social security numbers, and medical records of over 55,000 patients were potentially put in jeopardy. ABCD Pediatrics has since offered the affected individuals 12 months of identity protection.
What can you do?
These incidents were just a few of the cyber attacks that have been reported this year. Healthcare data breaches are up 27% to start the year. Data breaches can cost health care providers tens of thousands of dollars in fines. The first step to securing your practice is to understand the risk. Now, more than ever, it is important to schedule a security risk assessment for your practice. Not only is an annual risk assessment mandated by law, it can save your practice thousands of dollars in potential fines.
(2017, March 31) Phishing Attack Potentially Impacts 80,000 Patients of Washington University School of Medicine. Retrieved from http://www.hipaajournal.com
(2017, April 7 ) 2017 Shaping Up to Be Another Record-Breaking Year for Healthcare Data Breaches. Retrieved from http://www.hipaajournal.com
(2017, March 23 ) Urology Austin Ransomware Attack Announced. Retrieved from http://www.hipaajournal.com
(2017, April 4 ) More than 55,000 Patients Impacted by ABCD Pediatrics Ransomware Attack. Retrieved from http://www.hipaajournal.com