Too many healthcare employees complacent about security

Non-technical health care employees are too complacent about the possibility of a data breach

Non-technical health care employees are too complacent about the possibility of a data breach, and few are aware that it has happened to their organizations, according to a survey released today of employees at large and mid-sized health care organizations.

"There's a typical 'it can't happen to me' phenomenon," said Steve Kelley, at Chicago-based Trustwave Holdings, Inc., which sponsored the survey.

This is a huge vulnerability gap for health care organizations, he said, considering the large number of data breaches hitting health care organizations in recent years.

"It has either already happened to you, or will happen to you -- or you're not just aware of it yet," said Kelley.

In the past two years, attackers have stolen data from 81 percent of hospitals and health insurance companies, according to a report released by KPMG, attracted by the high value of health care records.

Health care records are worth up to ten times more on the black market as credit card numbers.

But only 14 percent of non-technical employees and 23 percent of technical employees thought that their organizations had experienced a breach.

Both technical and non-technical employees were aware of the risks to their industry in general. Some 91 percent of technical staff and 77 percent of non-technical staff thought that cybercriminals were increasingly targeting health care organizations.

But only 51 percent of non-technical employees were concerned about their own organization falling victim, compared to 74 percent of technical staff.

"The average non-technical person has no idea of how insecure the environment is," said Kelley. "But every single worker on the front line with customers needs to be educated on these issues."

Surprisingly, only 38 percent of these employees get security training at least twice a year -- 49 percent get training once a year, 7 percent only when they are first hired, and 6 percent received no security awareness training at all.

"There's a gap between how sensitive this information is, and how prepared they actually are," said Kelley.

In addition, while 53 percent of organizations perform security testing more than twice a year, 47 percent do it once a year or even less frequently, said the survey's technical respondents.

"Annual vulnerability testing and annual security awareness programs really aren't enough to maintain a fully secure posture in what's becoming one of the biggest consumer data issues and privacy data issues in the world," said Kelley.

Technical respondents said that 73 percent of their organizations have increased their security budgets.

However, according to PriceWaterhouseCooper's 2015 cybercrime survey, budget increases in healthcare organizations lagged behind that of banking and retail, even though the level of spending was lower to start with.

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