Is Health Information Security Dead?


ProPublica interviews the director of the Office for Civil Rights within the Department of Health and Human Services about the latest wave of data breaches of millions of American citizens’ health information.

“Just Tuesday, health insurer Premera Blue Cross disclosed that hackers broke into its system and may have accessed the financial and medical records of some 11 million people,” reports ProPublica. “The intrusion began last May but wasn’t discovered until January and wasn’t shared publicly until this week. Among the information that may have been taken about the insurers’ members and applicants: names, dates of birth, email addresses, street addresses, telephone numbers, Social Security numbers, member identification numbers, bank account information, and claims information, which may include sensitive medical details.”

The Atlantic also discusses the trend: “The healthcare industry has been catching hackers’ attention lately. In February, the health insurance company Anthem reported a breach in which hackers accessed to about 80 million records, and in 2014, the Tennessee-based hospital operator Community Health Systems saw 4.5 million records accessed(.)”

The Next Cybersecurity Target: Medical Data (The Atlantic, March 19, 2015)

Despite Wave of Data Breaches, Official Says Patient Privacy Isn’t Dead (ProPublica, March 20, 2015)

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  1. It should be clear that the fear of release of this information on the internet does not constitute paranoia but rather a very real possibility. People should consider this very carefully before seeking any mental health care services as the stigma may cause them more distress than any initial complaint to which they consider care for.