breach notification

Phishing Attack Top Data Security Motivator – HIMSS Survey

June 23rd, 2015

The key findings after interviewing 297 healthcare leaders and information security officers across the industry of the survey are –

  • Two-thirds of respondents experienced a significant security incident in this year
  • Healthcare organizations also reported using an average of eleven different technologies to secure their environments
  • More than half said that their facilities have hired a full-time professional to manage the information security functions.
  • Eighty Seven percent reported that their information security had increased as a business priority at their organizations over the past year.
  • Many believes that current security tools will not be sufficient to protect the industry against the types of security threats their organizations expect to face in the future

“The recent breaches in the healthcare industry have been a wake-up call that patient and other data are valuable targets and healthcare organizations need a laser focus on cyber security threats,” HIMSS Vice President of Technology Solutions Lisa Gallagher said in a statement. “Healthcare organizations need to rapidly adjust their strategies to defend against cyber-attacks. This means implementing threat data, incorporating new tools and sophisticated analysis into their security process.”

Other finding included –

  • 87 percent of those surveyed said antivirus/malware tools have been implemented to secure their healthcare organizations’ information security environment
  • 80 percent reported using network monitoring to detect and investigate information security incidents
  • 64 percent said that a lack of appropriate cyber security personnel is a barrier to mitigating cyber security events
  • Internal security teams identify more than 50 percent of information security threats

“Indeed, respondents were widely likely to indicate that more innovative and advanced tools are required to secure their environments in the future,” HIMSS stated. “Furthermore, they indicated that healthcare organizations must operate from a perspective which presumes their organization’s perimeter has already been breached.”

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Phishing attack leads to data breach

May 2nd, 2015

Partners Health Care System, Inc. suffered data breach when it learned that employees had fallen victim to a phishing scheme, providing sensitive information to unauthorized individuals. Affected information includes names, addresses, dates of birth, telephone numbers, and Social Security numbers in a few cases. Moreover, patients’ clinical information, such as diagnoses, treatment received, medical record numbers, medical diagnosis codes, or health insurance information, could also have been exposed in a few cases.

“Responding to the ‘phishing’ emails created an opportunity for unauthorized access to the workforce members’ email accounts within the Partners HealthCare network,” the statement read. “When we learned of this, we took steps to secure the email accounts and contacted law enforcement.”

Partners’ affiliated hospitals and institutions are also potentially affected which includes Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, North Shore Medical Center, Partners Continuing Care, and Newton-Wellesley Hospital.

“We deeply regret any inconvenience this may have caused you,” Partners said in its statement. “To help prevent something like this from happening in the future, we have reinforced workforce member education regarding ‘phishing’ emails and are enhancing our existing technical safeguards to protect patient information.”

The hospital mentioned that notification letters are sent to the affected individuals. They believe that there is no indication of affected information being misused.

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Unencrypted laptops present a major risk of data loss. 80% of information theft is due to lost or stolen laptops and other equipment. About 50% of network intrusions are performed with credentials gathered from lost or stolen devices. The penalties for a data breach are severe not only in terms of the monetary fines imposed on the organization, but also the potential loss of trust from customers and suppliers. Encryption software greatly enhances the security of your organization’s data as the information is not compromised if a laptop is lost or stolen.

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