Tennessee healthcare firm experiences security breach

Oct 14th, 2013 / Category: Managed File Transfer

The healthcare industry is one that often comes under immense scrutiny because of the sensitivity of patient information. If data is lost, exposed or stolen, organizations can receive hefty compliance fines and public distrust. PHIprivacy.net recently reported that Tennessee-based Hope Family Health is the latest security breach victim after a laptop was stolen from an employee's home in August. The laptop contained personal information - Social Security numbers, birth dates and names - of 8,000 people who have visited the healthcare provider since 2005.

Joey Forman, chief compliance officer at Hope Family Health, said the information contained on the laptop was fingerprint and password protected, but the data was not encrypted. However, Forman said the healthcare provider does not believe anyone's data has been accessed in a malicious manner, the news source reported.

Healthcare organizations that want to ensure data remains protected, whether files are being sent or received, should make sure they have the necessary solutions in place. Employees all too often resort to using consumer-grade options that put information at risk of being exposed. Secure file sharing systems keep content safe regardless of whether it is in transit or at rest.

Majority of healthcare providers' security is failing
A Ponemon Institute survey issued in December 2012 found that 94 percent of healthcare organizations had experienced a security breach during a two-year period, with 45 percent of participants suffering at least five incidents.

Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of Ponemon Institute, said healthcare organizations are trying to address many challenges with minimizing data breaches, which is being made more difficult with the adoption of mobile devices and other accessible technologies.

Rick Kam, president and co-founder of ID Experts, said patient data is at risk because healthcare providers are not changing their processes.

"Clearly, in order for the trend to shift, organizations need to commit to this problem and make significant changes. Otherwise, as the data indicates, they will be functioning in continual operational disruption," Kam said.

With so much sensitive and valuable data being stored on their systems, healthcare organizations cannot afford to experience intentional or unintentional data breaches. Employees are often the cause of incidents because of a lack of knowledge regarding safety protocols. Secure file sharing tools can help health providers keep information from falling into the wrong hands.