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Identity theft increasingly troublesome in healthcare, certain regions

Aug 10, 2013 Dave King

Recent studies indicate that data breaches have been among the biggest causes of identity theft in the United States and abroad, as hackers have successfully circumvented security protocols for many of the largest organizations with some consistency. Enterprises that handle sensitive information, such as financial and patient records, need to ensure that ID verification and data security protocols are tight to avoid the damaging effects of identity theft.

Now, several decisions in Washington have led to a complete overhaul of healthcare information technology management, which might be leaving certain organizations at risk of data breach and subsequent theft. Experts are currently arguing that Obamacare has been implemented without the necessary security guidelines to defend patient data in a very novel system.

Patient ID theft
Newsmax recently reported that the federal government has been fighting internally about the specification of Obamacare, while these quarrels are preventing important security statutes from coming into play. Most notably, the Department of Health and Human Services' inspect general released a report that indicated IT security must be the top priority of lawmakers leading into the October 1 deadline for the next set of decisions.

According to the news provider, the inspector general, among other parties, asserted that the government is months behind in the process of testing data security for one of the more critical components of the healthcare law. This pillar involves the ability of Americans to purchase insurance through state exchanges.

The source explained that officials are concerned that the decision will be made at the last minute, and that security pressure testing protocols will not be completed carefully and correctly. As a result, the American healthcare system might become even more vulnerable to data breaches, identity theft and a variety of other issues that will impact the population negatively.

Newsmax stated that should Washington finalize the statute that allows Americans to purchase insurance through state channels, these consumers will have to provide information that relates to income, identity and more. The big question is on the central hub which all information will be sent through, and if it is secure enough to avoid breach.

Proof is in the pudding
The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) tracks all data breaches that lead to the loss of sensitive records among organizations in the United States. In 2012, the firm recorded 163 breaches in the healthcare sector, leading to the exposure of more than 2.3 million sensitive records. This accounted for 34.7 percent of the total number of breaches and 13.5 percent of all lost records.

The government's track record wasn't much better, experiencing 53 breaches and losing more than 7.7 million sensitive records last year. So far in 2013, the picture is not looking much brighter. According to the ITRC's data, the healthcare sector has already fallen victim to 136 breaches and lost more than 2 million sensitive records this year.

The government has experienced 31 breaches and lost more than 1.3 million records in 2013. With both of these sectors being involved in the patient information security discussion, experts have plenty to worry about when it comes to identity theft in the medical industry.

ID verification a must
Regardless of whether a firm operates in healthcare or retail, ID verification standards have never been more important than today. Hackers represent only one type of threat, as other identity thieves continue to successfully use traditional tactics to steal sensitive information, set up fraudulent accounts and victimize consumers and businesses.

Companies should consider combining strict ID verification protocols with advanced data security and network monitoring solutions to reduce the risk of both corporate and personal identity theft.