Data breaches in California increase 600 percent

October 30, 2014
Area(s) of Interest: Health Information Technology 

The second annual report on financial data breaches in California was released yesterday by the California Attorney General and showed that the number of reported data breaches in 2013 was up 28 percent from the previous year, and the total number of records breached increased by more than 600 percent, from 2.5 million in 2012 to 18.5 million in 2013. Breaches in the health care sector made up 15 percent of the total, with 1.5 million records compromised.

The majority of health care breaches resulted from physical theft – accounting for 70 percent, compared with 19 percent in other industry sectors. Data breaches by malware and hacking only made up 9 percent of health care losses.

Fifty-five percent of health care breaches involved the theft of Social Security numbers, but the most common type of data breach is health information, which was compromised in 75 percent of health care data breaches, according to the report.

Over the study period there were 31 data breaches in health care, 24 resulting from stolen hardware, five from lost media and two from stolen documents. The stolen hardware was taken from the workplace, an employee car and an employee home, and included 16 laptops and eight desktops.

The report said that the “strategic use of encryption” should be used by those in health care to protect medical and financial information on laptops, portable devices and desktop computers.

The report also cites a recent study by the Ponemon Institute, which found that criminal attacks targeting the health care system are growing.



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