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Published On Jan 29, 2015

Policy

Grand Theft Medical

The move to electronic medical records may be helping identity thieves.

The move to electronic health records (EHRs) is in full force. This digital future, however, may come with a catastrophic side effect. A new influx of EHRs, paired with the broader range of networked devices on which they are shared, has created a “rich new environment for cyber criminals to exploit,” according to the FBI.

The medical records of more than 39 million people have been breached since 2009. Almost half of the cyber breaches in 2013 were in the medical industry. In the wrong hands, that information can be used to file fraudulent insurance claims and obtain prescription medications. Thieves can also use the pilfered data to commit identity theft and empty bank accounts. 

An FBI warning to major stakeholders in health care notes that the industry is “not as resilient” as other record-keeping industries. Although privacy criteria are in place to keep records safe, there is concern that encryption, use and training protocols are not always followed in an era of rapid digital change. 

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