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Millions affected by breaches of personal health data in the US

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The average cost per breached record is now around $500

Cyber hacking of personal healthcare information is on the rise in the US, new data suggests.

A report by tech firm Bitglass highlights breaches in the Department of Health and Human Services in the US. They include hacking and IT incidents, unauthorised sharing of personal health information by internal parties and theft of personal devices containing private material.

Anurag Kahol, of Bitglass, said: “The vast majority of healthcare organisations process and store protected health information such as Social Security numbers, medical history, and other personal data.

“It is no surprise that these entities would be targeted by malicious cyber criminals seeking to access sensitive data for monetary gain,” said Anurag Kahol, of Bitglass.

Hacking and IT incidents also led to larger breaches than other categories did, compromising 91.2 per cent of all exposed healthcare records in 2020.

Bitglass says the average cost per breached record increased from US$429 (£307) in 2019 to US$499 (£357) in 2020.

With 26.4 million records exposed in 2020, data breaches cost healthcare organisations US$13.2bn (£9.4bn).

Apart from hacking and IT incidents, there were other breaches of personal details of about 2.3 million people, exposing victims to identity theft, phishing, and other forms of cyberattacks. 

This year, breach numbers were up across the board, with 37 out of 50 US states suffering more breaches than they did in 2019. 

California had the most healthcare breaches in 2020 with 49 incidents – overtaking last year’s leader, Texas, which suffered 43 breaches in 2020. 

In 2020, the average healthcare firm took about 236 days to recover from a breach. 

Download the full Bitglass report here

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