Identity document

Howard University Hospital suffers data breach

July 18th, 2015

Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C. suffered data breach when more than 1,400 patients received letters intended for other individuals. The letters included names, account numbers, and dates that other individuals visited Howard University doctors. Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and other personal information were not included

According to the reports, data error reportedly caused letters to go out to people with the right surnames, but the wrong addresses. Howard University explained that California Healthcare Medical Billing, Inc. and JP Recovery Services, Inc. had been hired to mail letters to patients who had not yet paid their bills.

University said that they become aware of the incident on May 11 and will notify affected individuals.

Similar incident includes the breach at Virginia Commonwealth University Health System. The incident involves employee taking CDs which were no longer needed for the organization’s services and donating them to assist with children’s art projects. The affected information includes names and one or more of the following for 1000 patients: home addresses, dates of birth, medical record numbers, clinical information and health insurance information.

“This error brought to light a vulnerability in our system that developed over time and that we are working to correct, and we are deeply sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused some of our patients,” said John Duval, CEO of MCV Hospitals and Clinics.

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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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Former employee’s unauthorized access causes data breach

November 30th, 2014

Health care security breach was caused due to theft of 35 computers and 34 scanners by former IT contractor of Franciscan Health Systems. Three affected Washington hospitals are working to solve the lapses. According to the reports, the former employee Justin Page accessed one hospital six times, an administrative office 24 times, and an education and support facility eight times.

“We’re going to find the discrepancies in our system and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Scott Thompson of Franciscan Health Systems told the news source. “We’re right now taking some internal review of all those policies and procedures, to make sure we’ve figured out why this happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Justin Page kept his active security pass months even after he had completed his work for the company. He is charged with stealing $100,000 in computers, scanners and other equipment from three Franciscan facilities. Court documents indicate Page attempted to sell the hardware to help pay for an expensive pill addiction. A man identifying himself as the suspect’s grandfather said Page was feeling sorry.

According to the preliminary reports, Patients’ Protected Health Information (PHI) might not have been affected. Organizations need more stringent administrative and technical safeguards to prevent such incidents. It is always advisable to keep track of individual’s activities having sensitive data access.

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Organizations, especially corporate giants, have to have an information security policy in place that proves they have taken necessary steps and measures to safeguard the information they gathered. If these policies are not adhered to, the regulators may prosecute.

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