Healthcare providers must boost cyber defenses: Accenture

Healtchare providers need to shore up their defenses.
Healtchare providers need to shore up their defenses.

The continued digitization of the nation's healthcare system will place $305 billion worth of personal and medical information online and squarely in the crosshairs of cybercriminals in the next five years, according to a report by Accenture.

With this enormous target dangling in front of cybercriminals, Accenture said healthcare providers must boost their online defenses to protect customer data.

Accenture estimates that in the next five years one in 13 patients, or 25 million, will have their personal information stolen due to a data breach at their healthcare provider. Six million of these people will subsequently become medical identity theft victims, while another 4 million will end up paying out of pocket expenses to the tune of $65 billion due to the ID theft.

In many cases the victims may end up paying extra without realizing. One crime brought up in the report has criminals using stolen data to charge a victim's insurance company, and if the victim is not careful they could be paying for services they did not use.

“What most healthcare providers don't recognize is that as a result of cyber attacks on medical information, many patients will suffer personal financial loss. In contrast to credit card identity theft, where the card provider generally has a legal responsibility for account holders' losses above $50, victims of medical identity theft often have no automatic right to recover their losses,” the report stated.

Accenture recommended that healthcare providers opt for an active defense to protect the data. This includes developing an understanding of their adversaries, becoming more agile and thus able to reach customers faster by using cloud services, and establishing an end-to-end enterprise-level security program.

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