Data breaches have unfortunately become a common occurrence, with the Capital One data breach, for example, compromising 100 million Americans. But what hasn’t been receiving much major media coverage are the recent breaches affecting seniors.
One such breach occurred last year in May, and that breach compromised the personal information of almost 4,000 clients and employees of home care and support services for seniors in the bay area. That “personal information” includes quite a lot, from names, emails, and phone numbers to Social Security numbers, financial records, and health information.
2018 saw three times as many records breaches as in 2017, with 15 million patient records compromised in the healthcare sector. And this issue has only been exacerbated in 2019, with potentially more than 25 million records breached as of July.
Just one security incident in April affected at least 60 facilities in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, and Tennessee, compromising the personal information of an unknown number of patients in those four states.
This is an issue that is becoming increasingly important, in a variety of sectors but especially in the healthcare sector. However, many in this area are ill-prepared to handle it. Data breaches are going on for extended periods, and are not being reported within the 60 days mandated by HIPAA.
Part of the problem is that HIPAA is not well equipped to deal with security needs today, in a technological landscape remarkably different from that of 1996 when HIPAA was enacted. Unfortunately, any legislation or regulation enacted today would face a similar problem: technology continues to adapt quickly, and the market pushes the healthcare sector to invest in technological advances as they come.
A few tips to protect your online information: 1) Never open an email from an unknown sender that contains an attachment. 2) When storing information online with a bank or medical provider, make sure you choose a strong password – one that contains a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols that is not easy to guess. 3) Do not store credit card or social security information online.
If you have questions or would like to discuss your planning needs, we would be happy to help. Please contact our Guntersville office at 256-486-3407.