FBI Cyber Attack Warning Follow Georgia’s ‘Lax’ Hospitals


In the ever sounding alarm warning us about our most valuable (digital) details, the FBI has begun alerting healthcare providers that their systems would fall short of protecting patients’ records in the event of a cyber attack.

According to a Reuters report published last week:

“The healthcare industry is not as resilient to cyber intrusions compared to the financial and retail sectors, therefore the possibility of increased cyber intrusions is likely,” the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a private notice it has been distributing to healthcare providers, obtained by Reuters.

The notice, dated April 8, did not mention the Obamacare website, Healthcare.gov, which has been criticized by opponents of the Obama administration for security flaws. It urged recipients to report suspicious or criminal activity to local FBI bureaus or the agency’s 24/7 Cyber Watch.

Georgians should be especially worried — not only because the details gleaned from hospital records could lead to bigger personal identity thefts than those that involve credit card details (read: the massive Target breach).

But, because medical breaches are especially salient, here.

From an AJC story, published last summer:

Personal health information breaches in Georgia have affected nearly a half-million people in the last four years, according to a review of federal records by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. And that includes just the major incidents — those involving at least 500 people — that were reported. Nationwide, these major breaches have affected 22 million.

Medical records breaches are part of a much broader identity theft problem: One study determined that U.S. victims of identity theft lost $21 billion last year.

Critics say those who touch health data are sometimes lax and they know it.

An annual survey of health care organizations by Ponemon Institute, a privacy management firm, found that 94 percent admitted confidentially that they had suffered at least one data breach. Most “say they have insufficient resources to prevent and detect data breaches,” said Larry Ponemon, head of the institute.

A horrible foreshadowing for what is sure to become an even larger issue.


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