If you’ve visited a healthcare professional in the last few years, then you know that most of your medical data exists in digital format. It lives in the cloud, making it easy for doctors to access your medical history, arrange payment with your insurance company, and generally offer you care when you need it.
But while the industry has kept up with digitization, it has lagged in other areas, specifically in strengthening its infrastructure—leaving the private medical data of millions vulnerable to hacks, ransomware attacks, and other breaches.
Today, let’s discuss why our healthcare infrastructure needs shoring up, as well as what you can do to protect your data until that happens.
Our healthcare system is fragile
One of the most incredible things about the modern era is that our devices and computer systems can share information. But that’s where things get tricky. Your dermatologist’s office likely has its own software setup; so does your general practitioner. Your insurance company has its own platform. They may operate similarly, but they aren’t the same. And while some may have excellent security, others may have been cobbled together over decades.
Because these platforms communicate with other platforms—when your dermatologist sends information to a pharmacy, for example, or to your insurance company—they need to be able to “speak” to each other. This leaves room, or entry points, for malware/ransomware attacks and even phishing.
The built-in weakness isn’t the only problem, however. Some healthcare facilities and manufacturers simply haven’t invested in cybersecurity measures that would help protect their patients. As an example, many modern medical device manufacturers have only recently added privacy protocols to their equipment.
Your medical data can be used against you
Thieves who get their hands on your medical records immediately have access to a great deal of your sensitive information. This may include:
- Health insurance member number
- Social Security number
- Home address, phone number, and location details
- Bank account numbers
But it doesn’t stop there. These thieves now have an accurate background on you: they know if you have been diagnosed with any conditions, as well as what treatments you’re undergoing. Depending on what they’re after, the thieves may attempt to use your medical data to extort you, demanding money in return for not sharing your medical history with the world. They may also sell your medical identity on the dark web.
This can have catastrophic and far-reaching consequences. In 2004, a man had his medical identity stolen. The thief had several medical treatments done, and it was the victim who eventually faced a bill of more than $20,000. Almost two decades later, in 2019, he was still trying to clean up the mess, as some of the thief’s medical data, like his blood type, remains on his record.
Protecting your privacy: you’re not alone
The healthcare industry needs to step up its cybersecurity efforts. Until that happens, though, the best you can do is remain vigilant. That means examining your health insurance bills and explanations of benefits to make sure the services and treatments you’re being charged for are the ones you received.
We can help you with that. We started HealthLock because we realized regular people needed help protecting themselves from medical overbilling and identity theft. We audit every medical bill you receive and provide 24/7 monitoring for security threats, and we can take action if we spot any kind of fraud. By detecting procedures and treatments you haven’t received, we can help you stop potential medical identity theft.
Ransomware attacks on healthcare providers aren’t likely to stop anytime soon, but you don’t have to face them alone. Trust HealthLock to lock down your medical privacy.