Over a quarter of all Americans saw their healthcare data exposed in a breach in 2023 alone, a new data analysis shows.
That number has doubled since the year previously, which is an impressive increase even for the health industry, which has long been a prime target for hackers due to the large amounts of personal data that a successful breach can steal.
The total number, 87 million patients, is up from just 37 million in 2022.
480 Data Breaches Reported in 2023… So Far
The new analysis is from Atlas VPN, looking at data from the US Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights, where health organizations must publically report breaches that impact 500 or more patients.
According to their report, the first three quarters of 2023 saw 480 reported data breaches within the US healthcare sector, up from just 373 breaches across all of 2022.
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The two biggest blows were a HCA Healthcare breach and a breach at Managed Care of North America, resulting in exposed data of 11 million and 8.9 million individuals, respectively.
With a total of 87 million patients affected so far this year, over a quarter of the 334.2 million Americans in the country have lost their data to a breach in the last 9-month period.
Only Vermont Emerges Unscathed
California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania were the five states with the most exposed patient files. That's not surprising, given that dense populations in these states would mean that hospital systems simply have larger amounts of patient data to be lost.
Coincidentally, just one US state managed to escape without any attacks reported whatsoever: Vermont. Atlas VPN notes that the state's “small population and lack of major cities may allow it to fly under the radar of sophisticated hackers looking for maximum reward.”
Among the top states attacked, the number of healthcare organizations that were breached ranges between 43 (California) and 14 (Ohio).
Can Hospitals Stay Safe?
It's been a rough decade for the healthcare industry so far, with waves of pandemic patients overwhelming staffers, followed by equally damaging waves of hackers that continue to escalate the scope of their breaches. Ransomware was the biggest problem in 2021, and now general breaches have taken over the limelight.
If you're in the healthcare security business, you know that there are plenty of precautions that can reduce your risk. Employing an antivirus software can help, potentially dropping the odds of a successful malware attack by 25%.