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Medical identity theft on the rise

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Staff writer ▼ | March 19, 2014
Medical identityPonemon Institute Patient Privacy and Data Security study has found a 100% increase in criminal attacks on health care organizations since 2010. But if that weren't enough, they also found something far more disturbing.

"Despite concerns about employee negligence and the use of insecure mobile devices, 88 percent of organizations permit employees and medical staff to use their own mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets to connect to their organization's networks or enterprise systems such as email. Similar to last year more than half of organizations are not confident that the personally-owned mobile devices or BYOD are secure."

According to the report, very few organizations require their employees to install anti-virus/anti-malware software on their smartphones or tablets, scan them for viruses and malware, or scan and remove all mobile apps that present a security threat before allowing them to be connected their networks or systems.

Medical identity theft is on the rise, just as the rise in criminal breaches of health care providers is spiking. Medical identity theft accounted for 43% of all identity theft reported in 2013, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that somewhere between 27.8 and 67.7 million people's medical records have been breached since 2009 (and that's before the flawed rollout of the Affordable Care Act).

Stolen name, address, Social Security number and family information can be used not only to access financial accounts but also to open new lines of credit in someone elses' name. But, there's more. A criminal can use stolen data to alter medical records: Imagine inaccurate blood type, medical history or, for example, the existence of allergies. That may be a life-treating situation.

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