According to figures from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR), 2020 saw record numbers of healthcare data breaches reported – more than in any other year since healthcare data breaches started to be tracked. An article published on HIPAA Journal in January, 2021 included an analysis of healthcare data breaches in 2020 with the following findings:

  • Over 29 million healthcare records were breached from January 1 to December 31, 2020
  • There was a rate of 1.76 healthcare data breaches reported per day
  • Healthcare data breaches grew by 25% year-over-year
  • During 2020, 642 healthcare data breaches of 500 or more records were discovered

In addition to this:

  • The total number of healthcare data breaches has doubled since 2014 and tripled since 2010.
  • Over 3,700 breaches of 500 or more records have been reported since October 2009
  • Since 2009, more than 268 million healthcare records have been breached

How Data Breaches Occur

There are many different causes of healthcare data breaches, the most common of which are:

  • Hacking of servers and email accounts
  • Portable devices being stolen or lost
  • Unauthorized disclosures of personal healthcare information

The size of some of the data breaches is staggering. One largest breaches of the year was reported by the Dental Care Alliance, and was discovered on October 11, 2020. The payment card numbers of more than 1 million patients were compromised in the attack. The hackers initially obtained access to DCA systems on September 18, and access remained possible until October 13. Along with payment card data, those responsible may have illegally taken patient names and contact information as well as medical information and insurance information.  Patients were made aware of the attack in early December and approximately 10% of the patients later reported misuse of their data.

There are many factors that have led to the huge spike in attacks that took place over the last 12 months. Ultimately, the increase in attacks is simply due to cybercriminals targeting the healthcare sector to gain access to sensitive data. Patient records are extremely valuable as they can be used for multiple types of fraud. While credit card information will only garner a few dollars on their own, patient data can be sold for up to $150 per record. For healthcare providers, the cost of mitigating data breaches is considerable. the IBM Security Cost of a Data Breach Report shows the cost of a healthcare data breach has risen by 16% and is now costs and average of $499 per record.

Healthcare organizations have a responsibility to secure patient data and prevent attackers from accessing systems containing patient data. TitanHQ can assist healthcare organizations by providing solutions to block the most common attack vectors. Get in touch with TitanHQ now to discover how our award winning solutions can stop hackers from gaining access to patient data.