As if the number of data breaches is not troublesome enough, it appears that the medical sector is one of the most vulnerable industries in this regard. Dutch hospitals and healthcare institutions reported a total of 304 data leaks throughout 2016–a staggering number that probably will increase, as there are still five weeks left in the year.
Dutch Healthcare Sector Fails To Protect Data
Healthcare records are in high demand among online criminals, as these patient files contain a lot of sensitive information. Not only can hackers execute phishing and malware attacks against these patients, but they can also commit identity theft. Full patient records, including medical history and whatnot, fetch quite a high price on the deep web as well.
Dutch hospitals have a major issue when it comes to protecting customer data, by the look of things. With over 300 data leaks reported in 2016 already, it becomes apparent that something will need to change sooner rather than later. Most of these breaches are a direct result of human error and unencrypted internet traffic. This is not entirely surprising by any means.
No specific details were revealed as to what type of information has been leaked, precisely. For now, the objective is not to identify the vulnerable hospitals themselves, even though the privacy Commission is aware of the culprits, but rather to highlight a bigger problem. Security and patient records do not mix well in the healthcare sector, which is obvious.
It is important to keep in mind that all Dutch healthcare institutions are obligated by law to report data leaks as of 2016. In previous years, very few of these incidents were ever made public, out of fear of losing clients.Even though the general awareness regarding data leaks has been increasing, human error remains one of the biggest culprits.
Leaking sensitive hospital data can occur in a multitude of ways. In most cases, hackers find a way to penetrate hospital network systems and copy all vital information that they can get their hands on. Social engineering attacks, though, are not out of the question either, as they still have a rather high success rate.
Earlier this year, over 500 patient records were leaked when one Isala hospital employee had his laptop stolen. Moreover, over 200,000 patient records could be freely accessed over the Internet earlier this year, without requiring specific credentials or software. User information is never safe from prying eyes, and it looks as if these kinds of problems are only getting worse.
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