Cyberattacks Are Top Cause of Data Breaches, Report Finds

May 8, 2015 in News

Cyberattacks are the leading cause of health care data breaches, according to the Ponemon Institute’s fifth annual privacy and security report, Healthcare IT News reports (McCann, Healthcare IT News, 5/7).

Report Details

For the report, Ponemon surveyed 90 health care organizations and 88 business associates to gauge privacy and security trends. The report was sponsored by ID Experts, a vendor of security software and services (Ponemon report, May 2015).

Report Findings

According to the report:

  • 91% of health care organizations experienced one data breach in the last two years;
  • 40% experienced more than five breaches; and
  • 39% experienced between two and five breaches.

For the first time in the report’s five-year history, criminal cyberattacks were the leading cause of such breaches (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 5/8). According to the report, criminal activity-related breaches increased by 125% during the same time period.

Specifically, 45% of respondents said criminal attacks were the root cause of their breaches. However, just 40% of health care security professionals said they were most concerned about cyberattacks compared with other potential security threats.

Rather, the majority — 70% — said they were most worried about employee negligence. According to the report, 43% of respondents cited lost or stolen devices as the cause of breaches.

According to Ponemon Institute CEO Larry Ponemon, the leading causes of data breaches have historically been related to:

  • Employee negligence or incompetence; and
  • System glitches (Healthcare IT News, 5/7).

Further, the report noted that one-third of respondents did not have a process for responding to data breach incidents, and most failed to perform security risk assessments.

In addition, about 50% of respondents said they were not confident their organizations could detect all cases of patient data theft or loss.

According to the report:

  • 57% of respondents said a lack of resources or budget was the greatest barrier to improving security; and
  • 56% cited inadequate expertise (Hall, FierceHealthIT, 5/7).

The report noted that data breaches cost the health care industry about $6 billion each year, with about $2.1 million in costs per organization (Health Data Management, 5/8).

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