Over 40 million people had health information leaked this year

More and more people continue to have their health information exposed through hacks and other data leaks. Hacks and thefts of health data spiked in 2021.

Over 40 million people in the United States had their personal health information exposed in data breaches this year, a significant jump from 2020 and a continuation of a trend toward more and more health data hacks and leaks.

Health organizations are required to report any health data breaches that impact 500 or more people to the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, which makes the breaches public. So far this year, the office has received reports of 578 breaches, according to its database. That’s fewer than the 599 breaches reported in 2020, but last year’s breaches only affected about 26 million people.

Since 2015, hacks or other IT incidents have been the leading reason people have their health records exposed. According to a report from the security company, Bitglass threats continue.

The transition coincided with federal rules in the US requiring that healthcare organizations use electronic medical records and the broader switch toward digital tools like internet-connected monitors in healthcare.

Medical records are valuable on the black market. Medical record information is much harder to change than a credit card and it can be used to make fake medical claims or purchase medications.

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