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The Year of the Hacker

flying cadeucii2015 was the year health care got serious about cyber security.

Hackers gave the industry no other choice.

The year started with a massive data breach at Indianapolis-based Anthem Inc., which the health insurer revealed on Feb. 4. Hackers roamed around in Anthem’s computers for six weeks and stole personal and financial information of 78.8 million customers, as well as the information of 8.8 million customers at Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans not owned by Anthem.

There have been 269 data breaches at health care organizations this year, according to statistics collected through Dec. 22 by the Identity Theft Resource Center. That’s actually down from 2014, when health care organizations suffered 333 breaches.

But the number of records stolen has soared to 121.6 million records stolen, up from less than 8.4 million records in 2014. Even without the Anthem breach, there were still 34 million records stolen this year from health organizations.
The health care industry accounted for one out of every three breaches recorded by the Identity Theft Resource Center.

“They can and are trying to break into everything,” Doug Leonard, president of the Indiana Hospital Association, said of hackers. He added, “It’s really on everybody’s radar screen in the health care industry.”

In a survey released in August by consulting firm KPMG, 81 percent of health care executives said their organization had suffered a cyber attack in the previous two years and 13 percent said they were being attacked daily.

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