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40 million people had their healthcare information hacked in 2021

Healthcare breaches continue to grow at a rapid rate.

ransomware data hacker
Image: Unsplash

Hacking is a constantly growing problem in the United States. 2021 has possibly been the worst year yet, with more than 40 million people having their healthcare information compromised from data breaches.

The Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services holds the records for healthcare breaches in the United States. Breaches that affect more than 500 people must be reported to the Office, making that information public.

This year, the Office for Civil Rights received 578 reports of breaches from health organizations. That number is actually less than the 599 breaches reported last year, but the number of affected people is much higher this time around. This year’s reports encompass more than 40 million individuals. Last year, approximately 26 million people were affected.

healthcare breaches in 2021
Image: Bitglass

A report from Bitglass, a security company, outlines the rapid growth in healthcare hacking that the United States has seen over the last few years. Before 2016, data breaches were a minimal cause of compromised healthcare information. Loss or theft of devices and other IT errors were the main causes of leaked data during that time.

However, the proliferation of healthcare breaches has been exponential over the last five years. Now, data breaches are by far the most common cause for compromised healthcare data.

Medical information is super valuable on the black market, making these health organizations prime targets for bad actors. Most of these organizations aren’t equipped to combat these attacks.

And these breaches have the potential to do great harm to patients of health organizations that become the targets of attacks. Hopefully, the healthcare industry can finally get on board with increasing cybersecurity efforts at health organizations everywhere.

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