Hackers Going After Medical Records
Hackers raided a server at the University of California, Berkeley last fall, stealing everything from Social Security numbers to immunization records in an episode that highlights one danger of moving health information from file cabinets to cyberspace, Forbes reports in a first-person account by one of the 160,000 victims. "Stealing medical data has become more attractive to hackers and identity thieves as banks and individuals have become more sophisticated about protecting credit-building information." One consumer group estimates that as many as 12 percent of digital security breaches target the medical industry.
The risk, Forbes says, may call for some digital self-defense. "Consumers are often the first line of defense against medical record theft Most important, [one expert] says, is treating one's medical benefits card like a credit card." Exchanges between consumers and there insurers should be monitored as closely as credit card statements, Forbes advises.
Worries about electronic medical record theft have spread recently, because the economic stimulus has incentivized health providers to quickly adopt electronic records. "Data breaches are inevitable" (Ruiz, 6/3).