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Study: Nearly 7 in 10 Healthcare Orgs Have Compromised Email Credentials

March 8, 2017
by Rajiv Leventhal
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A new study of Dark Web email vulnerabilities in the healthcare industry has revealed that 68 percent of healthcare organizations have compromised email credentials, and 80 percent of the positive data set includes actionable password information, simplifying hackers’ efforts to infiltrate the network.

Evolve IP, a Wayne, Pa.-based provider of HIPAA-compliant, HITRUST-audited cloud and hybrid cloud services, conducted the research along with ID Agent, a relied-upon source which combines human intelligence with Dark Web intelligence and search capabilities to identify, analyze and monitor an organization’s compromised or stolen employee and customer data. Together, they examined the pervasive nature of email-based cybersecurity attacks and sheds light on the quantity, variety, sources and consistent growth of these threats.

The study, which included an analysis of 1,000 healthcare organizations, “illustrates the need for proactive threat monitoring coupled with near real-time disaster recovery solutions to prevent employee email liabilities from becoming major catastrophes,” according to the organizations.

Keu survey findings include:

  • 68 percent of the healthcare organizations analyzed have compromised email credentials as identified by ID Agent’s Dark Web ID analysis. Nearly 80 percent of the positive data set includes actionable password information, simplifying hackers’ efforts to infiltrate the network.
  • An estimated 7,500 individual incidents occurred across the study where healthcare companies had email credentials compromised due to phishing or key logging attacks. Any one of these vulnerabilities could rapidly escalate to ransomware, denial of service attacks or PHI breaches across an entire enterprise.
  • 23 percent of the passwords stolen were available for sale or trade on the Dark Web as unencrypted, clearly visible text. While the remainder of passwords were encrypted, the level of encryption used presents no real hurdle to professional hackers that want to crack them.

Kevin Lancaster, CEO of ID Agent, highlighted the overall scope of the compromised email credential issue in a statement that read, “With 68 percent of healthcare organizations having compromised credentials within the Dark Web, organizations are failing to adequately protect customers from on-line account takeover and data exploit. To combat the growing threat, the need to develop an end-to-end solution to automate the process of identifying stolen credentials and proactively securing customer on-line accounts, is vital.”

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