- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 10, 2015

Hackers already managed to compromise the health records of nearly 80 million Anthem customers in a high-profile breach earlier this year, but now analysts expect 1 in 3 patients will be similarly affected in 2016.

Cyberattacks will continue to strike the health care industry next calendar year, IDC’s Health Insights group predicts in a new report, and the research firm expects around one-third of patients will be impacted as a result.

“Frankly, healthcare data is really valuable from a cyber criminal standpoint. It could be 5, 10 or even 50 times more valuable than other forms of data,” Lynne Dunbrack, the research vice president for IDC’s Health Insights, told Computerworld.

In an interview with the publication, Ms. Dunbrack said IDC Health’s analysts determined that a reluctance with regards to deploying security technology industry-wide has proven to be problematic, evidenced in particular by the massive Anthem and Premera Blue Cross breaches earlier this year in which hackers gained unauthorized access to roughly 80 million and 11 million customers, respectively.

A review of 10 years’ worth of data breach information undertaken in the fall by researchers at Experian concluded that the health care industry has suffered from major hack attacks more often than the education, government, retail or financial sectors.

And 40 percent of those intrusions compromised not just medical records, but other personally identifiable information that had made health insurers “a lucrative target for criminals” willing to commit identity theft.

“Medical records are worth up to 10 times more than credit card numbers on the black market,” Experian’s researchers noted in a separate report put out recently that predicted the health care industry will continue to be the most targeted sector in 2016.

“The healthcare sector will continue to be a focal point for attacks in the coming year because of the value of medical records on the black market,” that report concluded. “While credit card records continue to lose value on the dark web, medical records remain lucrative.”

The FBI has estimated that health care fraud has cost the industry anywhere from $74 billion to $247 billion a year a year, Computerworld reported.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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