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Protected Health Information (PHI): High Value to Hackers: Medical Facilities at Risk

Rochester, MI (PRWEB) February 14, 2013

Penetration testing performed by High Bit Security on a Midwestern medical facility dramatically illustrates the ease with which hackers can obtain Protected Health Information. (PHI)

“When High Bit Security tested the medical facility, we obtained access to patient medical records, including name, address, next of kin, social security numbers, medical history, driver’s license numbers, all Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance information, plus the physician’s signatures and narcotics ID,” said High Bit Security COO, Adam Goslin. “Obviously we would not disclose the name of the facility, but the administrator advised us that they had 20,000 patient records in their system at the time the test was performed.”

The Financial Impact of Breached Protected Health Information, a study published by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) States on page 21: “A thief downloading and stealing data can get $50 on the street for a medical identification number compared to just $1 for a Social Security number. For those receiving the medical ID number and using it to defraud a health care organization, the average payout is more than $20,000,” according to Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum. "Compare that to just $2,000 for the average payout for regular ID theft.” *1*

“That translates to one million dollars in overall revenue to the hacker, and potentially $40 million dollars in costs to the system - in fraudulent claims and fake prescriptions, sometimes taking months to catch. It’s easy to see why even a small doctor office presents a juicy target. It is well known in the hacking community the value of certain types of information, traded in a classic underground economy,” continued Goslin.

Small wonder that the government is stepping in and demanding that medical facilities secure their information. “The Department of Health and Human Services now levies fines under HIPAA for facilities that are breached, and forgiveness for non-compliance is a thing of the past,” said High Bit Security CBDO, Barbara Goushaw. “In spite of this, many doctors and clinics are hoping to stay under the radar of both criminals and the government. It’s time to recognize that cyber-theft plays a role in the high cost of health care, and one that is steadily increasing."

The complete case study can be reviewed at the High Bit Security website. The study details the testing results of the engagement, while keeping the client anonymous. “Thankfully, this medical facility took their responsibility seriously; in spite of the fact they thought they were secure. Their EMR provider (a large, national provider) was providing their day to day IT support, and told them not to worry about it. Since the medical facility wanted to be sure, they hired High Bit Security to do both an external and internal penetration test,“ said Goslin. “The chief physician was very disturbed at the magnitude of the issues identified once they received their final report; however was very glad their security stance was assessed so they were aware of the security vulnerabilities, and the fact that the detailed High Bit Security reporting allowed for swift remediation.”

About High Bit Security:
High Bit Security is a national security services provider, providing penetration testing solutions to clients who need to protect sensitive data in industries such as Healthcare, Credit Card, Financial, or companies that otherwise store Intellectual Property or Personally Identifiable Information. High Bit Security also provides security consulting services to our clients to assist them with their compliance objectives across PCI-DSS, PA-DSS, HIPAA, SSAE-16 or simply wish to perform a security best practices audit of their organization. Contact High Bit Security today for a free consultation to take steps toward protecting your sensitive information. 800-757-3144

*1* The Financial Impact of Breached Protected Health Information,” American National Standards Institute, 2012

*2* World Privacy Forum

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