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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The medical records of more than 5 million Americans and even more people globally — including X-rays, MRIs and CT scans — are vulnerable targets to even the simplest cybersecurity threats, ProPublica and German broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk found.

Why it matters: Because of the sensitivity of some of these records, patients face potential devastation if their images are hacked.

  • "Medical knowledge can be used against you in malicious ways: to shame people, to blackmail people," Cooper Quintin, a security researcher and senior staff technologist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told ProPublica. "This is so utterly irresponsible."
  • In some cases, a free software program or basic lines of computer code could access images and private data.

What they found:

  • More than 13.7 million medical tests in the U.S. were available online, including more than 400,000 from X-rays and other images that could be downloaded.
  • Large hospital chains and academic medical centers seemed to have better protections in place. Most of the cases of unprotected data the report found involved "independent radiologists, medical imaging centers or archiving services."

The bottom line: Patient data obtained by the health care industry has systemically had problems with hacking ever since it switched from analog to digital technology, including those stemming from basic human error or systems with known security weaknesses.

Go deeper: The pitfalls of electronic health records

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

Boris Johnson announces month-long COVID-19 lockdown in England

Prime Minsiter Boris Johnson. Photo: NurPhoto / Getty Images

A new national lockdown will be imposed in England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Saturday, as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country topped 1 million.

Details: Starting Thursday, people in England must stay at home, and bars and restaurants will close, except for takeout and deliveries. All non-essential retail will also be shuttered. Different households will be banned from mixing indoors. International travel, unless for business purposes, will be banned. The new measures will last through at least December 2.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The massive early vote

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Early voting in the 2020 election across the U.S. on Saturday had already reached 65.5% of 2016's total turnout, according to state data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic and its resultant social-distancing measures prompted a massive uptick in both mail-in ballots and early voting nationwide, setting up an unprecedented and potentially tumultuous count in the hours and days after the polls close on Nov. 3.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat.
  2. World: Greece tightens coronavirus restrictions as Europe cases spike — Austria reimposes coronavirus lockdowns amid surge of infections
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Technology: Fully at-home rapid COVID test to move forward.
  5. States: New York rolls out new testing requirements for visitors.