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Healthcare Hacks Account for Most Data Breaches in 2015

September 9, 2015
by Heather Landi
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In the first half-period of 2015, the healthcare industry had the highest number of data breaches, with 187 breaches, accounting for 21 percent of the total number of incidents, according to the Breach Level Index by digital security company Gemalto.

However, that figure is down from recent half-periods, both in the number of breaches and in the share of breaches among industries, according to the findings of the Breach Level Index.  As a result of these data breaches so far in 2015, the healthcare industry also led the way in number of records breached by industry with 84.4 million records, or 34 percent of the total.

This represents a dramatic shift from the past few years when healthcare had relatively small numbers of records involved in data breaches, according to the report. In the second half of 2014, for example, healthcare accounted for only 5.2 percent of stolen records as the number of records involved in data breaches were mostly in retail and financial services industries.

The biggest breach in the first half of this year, which scored a 10 on the Breach Level Index magnitude scale, was an identity theft attack on Anthem in February that exposed 78.8 million records. That attack represented one third (32 percent) of the total records exposed in the first half of 2015, and was highly publicized in part because it represented the first major state-sponsored cyber attack of several that occurred this year, according to the report.

For the first six months of 2015, 888 data breaches occurred, compromising 246 million records worldwide. Compared to the first half of 2014, data breaches increased by 10 percent, while the number of compromised data records declined by 41 percent during the first six months of this year.

"What we're continuing to see is a large ROI for hackers with sophisticated attacks that expose massive amounts of data records," Gemalto vice president and chief technology officer for data protection Jason Hart said in a statement. “Cyber criminals are still getting away with big and very valuable data sets. For instance, the average healthcare data breach in the first half of 2015 netted more than 450,000 data records, which is an increase of 200 percent compared to the same time last year.”

Malicious outsiders were the leading source of data breaches so far in 2015, account for 62 percent of breaches and identity theft continues to be the primary type of breach, making up 75 percent of all records compromised and slightly more than half (53 percent) of all data breaches in the first half of this year, according to the Breach Level Index.

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