What You Need To Know About Stolen Personal Health Information
In the internet-driven era, digital information is protected by passwords, which are not always fool proof. You probably know someone who had personal information compromised in some way or, worse, had their identity stolen. If not, there are plenty of stories in the news about stolen credit card and bank access data. However, another record of digital identity containing more permanent information is equally sought after by hackers. Here's what you need to know about stolen personal health and medical information.
Where Is Stolen Health And Medical Information Sold?
Hackers relentlessly search for ways to steal not just your bank and credit card information, but your own personal health information, or PHI, and electronic medical records, or EMR, as well. This information is sold to fraudsters for a profit, usually on the dark web, a type of digital black market. Because hackers can obtain this information easily, usually because of weak passwords (not) protecting the data, fraudsters are able to buy more data for less money. The going price for your healthcare information? Around $50 to $100.
PHI And EMR In The Wrong Hands
Once this information is in the hands of fraudsters and other nefarious individuals, what could possibly go wrong? A lot could go wrong, and none of it is very good for the victims.
- Certain health information could be used to blackmail individuals. Imagine the wrong people knowing about the health of someone whose job depends on their being in good health. By contacting the victim, criminals will use the threat of revealing information about their poor health to their employer, and force the victim to pay up.
- Very sensitive medical information might be used to publicly expose or humiliate individuals of high standing. What if information was revealed that a prestigious politician was dying of cancer? This could adversely affect future elections.
- Using stolen medical information, criminals are able to file fake insurance claims, resulting in massive levels of insurance fraud.
What Does The Future Look Like?
Recently huge amounts of stolen health information has flooded the dark web with product, which has driven down the price somewhat. Despite this surge in breaches, there is some good news for you. Law enforcement has aggressively increased efforts to find and stop hackers and buyers, which has caused somewhat of a decrease in demand for medical records. These events are making it more difficult for thieves to make a living.
What You Can Do
However, incentives for hackers to steal your information and sell it for profit will probably always remain. The best thing you can do to protect all of your personal data information is to always have high quality, revolving passwords. For more about this topic, check out online password managers and other hacking-prevention professionals.