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March 2018, Vol. 6, No. 2

Healthcare breaches drop, but ransomware attacks rise

More than 5.6 million Americans had their patient records stolen or exposed in healthcare breaches in 2017. Remarkably, that huge number is a marked decrease from the year before, mostly due to fewer large-scale healthcare breaches -- though there were still some of those, too -- according to new research from Protenus, a health IT privacy and security firm. But in a notable development -- and deeply concerning to many in health IT -- ransomware and malware strikes on healthcare organizations intensified last year, doubling to 64 incidents reported to federal officials, compared with 2016. The biggest healthcare breach reported in 2017 was at Med Center Health in Kentucky, where a former employee gained access to the billing information of nearly 700,000 patients in a series of hacking exploits, as reported by Med Center parent Commonwealth Health Corp. to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Indeed, the so-called insider threat -- when employees accidentally or maliciously gain inappropriate access to ...

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