Healthcare News & Insights

36% of 2012 data breaches happened in health care

Across all industries, cyber security attacks are becoming more frequent and more sophisticated – and more of them are targeting healthcare organizations. 

cyber-attackHackers are moving away from widespread malware campaigns and other large-scale attacks, and are instead putting more effort in finding organizations with the data they want and crafting specialized scams to get access to that data.

Those targeted attacks increased by 42% in 2012 compared to the previous year, according to Symantec’s recent Inter Security Threat Report 2013. In those attacks, hackers conduct research about a specific company and send targeting emails to employees trying to convince them to open a malicious file or link, or volunteer sensitive information.

In addition to changing their tactics, hackers are changing who they’re attacking — including putting more focus on stealing data from smaller organizations. Companies with 250 or fewer employees suffered 18% of all cyber attacks in 2011, according to Symantec. But in 2012, that figure jumped to 31%.

Successful attacks against larger organizations can reap greater rewards for hackers, but since those businesses invest more in their defenses, small companies are becoming the easier — and therefore, more lucrative — target for cyber attacks.

Hackers are also targeting organizations in certain industries where they can find the most valuable information — and that means more attacks against healthcare organizations.

Attacks on the rise

Breaches involving healthcare firms made up more than a third (36%) of all data breaches reported in 2012, according to Symantec. That was was the most out of any industry in the study, far ahead of education (16%), government (13%) and accounting (9%), which occupied the next three spots on the list.

Some of that is likely due to the fact that more breaches in other industries can go unreported due to regulatory differences. However, security experts have warned that healthcare providers are becoming an increasing big target for attacks. Those organizations contain a lot of data that can be used for medical identity theft and other lucrative schemes.

In fact, healthcare data breaches are becoming more costly, even as the damage drops in other industries, according to the Ponemon Institute.

The bottom line, as Symantec’s report shows: Healthcare providers — even smaller organizations — are in hackers’ crosshairs. Help prevent breaches by following these best practices to secure healthcare data.

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