Cybersecurity is a primary concern as corporate workplaces cozy up to mobile technology like smartphones and tablets, but physical theft of devices still remains the number one cause of security breaches of private health information, according to a Department of Health and Human Services database of health information breaches.
This year, data for more than 2.6 million people was breached in 32 incidents including cyberattacks, improper disposal, loss, theft, and unauthorized access. The largest happened in January after Health Net reported that the records for 1.9 million patients were missing
Of the 32 breaches reported thus far in 2011, 18 were caused by theft of laptops or other portable devices, resulting in a breach of data of more than 640,000 individuals. Theft was also the cause of the second largest breach of 2011 after a desktop computer containing private information for 514,330 people was stolen from Eisenhower Medical Center in California in March.
The study found that most organizations (two-thirds) don’t take advantage of security practices like encryption, which would keep data secure if a device the information resided on were stolen. Forty-six percent of laptops contained confidential data; only 30 percent used encryption, the reported stated.
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