The Data breach cause that scares me most is insider identity theft because it involves employees that should be trustworthy, and aren't. It also emphasizes that the company, hospital, or government agency have an aggressive "red flags" program in place to monitor who accesses sensitive consumer information (e.g., customers, patients, clients, employees, contractors), and compliance with data security policies.
Yesterday, the News-Record reported a data breach involving protected patient information at High Point Regional Health System. An employee took home 47 patients' files, and later returned them. Officials believe the data breach occurred between September 14 and October 6. Hospital representatives learned of the breach last month by an employee at Premier Imaging LLC, a hospital subsidiary. The employee has since been fired.
The breached records included patients' names, residential addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers and insurance information -- all of the critical data elements for thieves to assume another person's identity and do significant damage with health or financial accounts. An investigation by the health system could not determine whether the former employee has any patient information in her possession or has used it in any way.The hospital has notified affected patients, and arranged an identity protection service for the affected consumers.
Specific data security rules exist for hospitals and health care organizations. According to the Health & Human Services website, the information that must be protected includes:
"Information your doctors, nurses, and other health care providers put in your medical record; conversations your doctor has about your care or treatment with nurses and others; Information about you in your health insurer’s computer system; billing information about you at your clinic; and most other health information about you held by those who must follow these laws."
The companies that must follow this law are called "covered entities," and include doctors, pharmacies, nursing homes, HMO's, health plans, health insurance companies, and vendors hired under certain conditions.