Private Health Info of 40+ Million Americans Was Exposed in 2021
According to government data, the personal health information of more than 40 million people in the United States was exposed by data breaches in 2021.
The Verge reports that more than 40 million people in the U.S. had their personal health info exposed by data breaches in 2021, a huge jump from 2020 and the continuation of a worrying trend of common data breaches and hacks.
Hacking the System. (Getty)
Health organizations must report data breaches that impact over 500 people to the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services. So far, the office has received reports of 578 breaches, according to its public database. While 2020 had a slightly higher number of breaches, those breaches only affected 26 million people while over 40 million were affected by the 578 data breaches in 2021.
According to a recent report from security company Bitglass, since 2015 hacks and other IT incidents have been the leading cause of health record data breaches. Before 2015, the primary cause was lost or stolen devices that resulted in data breaches.
The increase in hacks coincides with federal rules requiring healthcare organizations to use electronic medical records and the overall switch to internet-connected monitors and digital tools across the healthcare industry.
Stolen medical records are often sold on the black market as they contain information that is harder to change than a credit card and can often be used to purchase prescription medications.
Many healthcare groups have not invested heavily in cybersecurity despite an increasing number of cyberattacks on medical organizations. The largest breach of 2021 was from a cyberattack on the Florida Healthy Kids Corporation health plan which resulted in the information 3.5 million people exposed.
Read more at the Verge here.