Ponemon Institute: Cyber attacks up dramatically, overall breaches down slightly at healthcare organizations

Posted 3.17.14 by

Criminal attacks on healthcare systems have risen 100 percent over the past four years, according to the Ponemon Institute’s fourth annual Benchmark Study on Patient Privacy and Data Security.

When the Traverse City, Mich.-based institute first conducted the study in 2010, 20 percent of senior employees at healthcare organizations across the country reported attacks on sensitive data. That number rose to 40 percent in 2014.

Despite the uptick in cyber attacks, the report indicates that the total number of data breaches declined slightly from previous years and the average economic impact of breaches dropped 17 percent.

Not surprisingly, 75 percent of organizations reported employee negligence is their greatest breach threat and that healthcare organizations continue to struggle to comply with increasing complex federal and state privacy and security regulations.

Primary causes of breaches were lost or stolen devices (49 percent), employee mistakes or unintentional actions (46 percent) and third-party errors (41 percent).

“The combination of insider-outsider threats presents a multi-level challenge, and healthcare organizations are lacking the resources to address this reality,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. “Employee negligence, such as a lost laptop, continues to be at the root of most data breaches in this study. However, the latest trend we are seeing is the uptick in criminal attacks on hospitals, which have increased a staggering 100 percent since the first study four years ago.”

See the full study here.

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