Tag Archives: Medical Privacy

Paris Attacks Spark Another Fight Against Encryption

by Sean Sposito, San Francisco Chronicle

walking smartphone aps illustration

[Encryption “back-doors” for law enforcement] won’t necessarily weaken terrorist organizations’ ability to communicate with each other over the Internet. … But what it could do is make it easier for criminals and terrorists to access our financial, medical and other personal records, said Pam Dixon, the executive director of the World Privacy Forum in San Diego. They might find a way through the back-door as well. “Strong crypto means good security for all of us,” she said. “It means that banks and hospitals can secure financial and other transactions in our digital world.” Read More ›

Who Else Has Accessed Your Medical Data?

by Lisa Zamosky, Los Angeles Times

So far in 2015 alone, there have been more than 32 health data breaches as a result of hacking, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights. “Health records are more valuable to identity thieves than financial records, and they can actually be sold at a premium on the black market,” [says one expert]. … It’s a more complicated crime to resolve than financial theft, with fewer protections in place to help patients whose information is stolen. … Medical identity theft can also dangerously cause someone else’s health data to get intertwined with yours. Read More ›

UCLA Health System Data Breach Affects 4.5 Million Patients

by Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times

Computer screen data

This cyberattack at UCLA comes on the heels of a major breach of federal employee records and a massive hack at health insurance giant Anthem Inc. affecting 80 million Americans this year. The intrusion is raising fresh questions about the ability of hospitals, health insurers and other medical providers to safeguard the vast troves of electronic medical records and other sensitive data they are stockpiling. The revelation that UCLA hadn’t taken the basic step of encrypting this patient data drew swift criticism from security experts and patient advocates. Read More ›

Report: Medical data breaches are rising, with no end in sight

by Victoria Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle

These health data attacks give hackers all the information they need to assume a patient’s identity, launch targeted “phishing” attacks, clean out bank accounts and commit crimes under the victim’s name, said Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, an arm of a nonprofit public interest research group in San Diego County. “What we have found with working with victims of medical identity theft is that most don’t find out for about two years,” Dixon said. “The sophisticated criminals who are committing these crimes are waiting to act on the data so there is less risk of being caught.” Read More ›

Anthem Hack: Could The Insurer Have Prevented It?

by Matt O'Brien, San Jose Mercury News

[Critics] say encrypting personal data could have helped. “They claim it’s the expense. Really, there’s no excuse,” said Beth Givens, founder and director of San Diego-based Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. “They don’t want to take the time and effort to decode it.” … Anthem’s breach affected up to 80 million people, far more than the 37.5 million actually covered by the insurer as of December, according to the company’s most recent earnings report. Those hacked included not just Anthem employees but also many former Anthem subscribers, many of whom long ago dropped the insurer. Read More ›

Anthem Hacked; Health Insurance Data On Up To 80 Million Exposed

by Chad Terhune and Ryan Parker, Los Angeles Times

“If confirmed, we are dealing with one of the biggest data breaches in history and probably the biggest data breach in the healthcare industry,” said Jaime Blasco, vice president and chief scientist at AlienVault, a San Mateo, Calif., information security firm. “For individuals, in a few words, it is a nightmare,” he said. “If the attackers had access to names, birthdays, addresses and Social Security numbers, it means that information can be easily used to carry out identity theft schemes.” Read More ›

FTC Calls For Strong Data And Privacy Protection With Connected Devices

by Natasha Singer, The New York Times

smart home

Last year, for instance, an electronics company that marketed what it said were “secure” Internet-connected cameras, allowing parents to remotely monitor their babies, settled a complaint by the F.T.C. that lax security practices had exposed its customers to privacy invasions. A security flaw allowed anyone with the cameras’ Internet addresses to view, and in some cases hear, what was happening in customers’ homes. Read More ›

The Big Business Of Selling Prescription-Drug Records

by Jordan Robertson and Shannon Pettypiece, Businessweek

pharmacy workers online

Now that data mining has enabled pharmacy companies to adopt the practice, some critics say technological advances are undoing protections provided by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the federal medical privacy law. … Matchbacks have solved one of Big Pharma’s biggest marketing headaches: the layers of physicians, pharmacists, and insurers that stood between drugmakers and patients in the past. “This is the holy grail for every pharmaceutical company, to know that there’s a way to look back to actual script information,” says targeted-ad pioneer Helene Monat. Read More ›

Hacked vs. Hackers: Game On

by Nicole Perlroth, The New York Times

The impact on consumers has been vast. Last year, over 552 million people had their identities stolen, according to Symantec, and nearly 25,000 Americans had sensitive health information compromised — every day — according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Over half of Americans, including President Obama, had to have their credit cards replaced at least once because of a breach … . But if there is a silver lining to the current predicament … security experts say it is that computer security, long an afterthought, has been forced into the national consciousness. Read More ›

The Creepy New Wave of the Internet

by Sue Halpern, The New York Review of Books

Apple offered a glimpse of how the Internet of Things actually might play out, when it introduced the company’s new smart watch, mobile payment system, health apps, and other, seemingly random, additions to its product line. As Mat Honan virtually shouted in Wired: “Apple is building a world in which there is a computer in your every interaction, waking and sleeping. … telling you how many steps you took, how high you climbed and how many calories you burned. … THIS IS THE NEW APPLE ECOSYSTEM. APPLE HAS TURNED OUR WORLD INTO ONE BIG UBIQUITOUS COMPUTER.” Read More ›