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Most health data breaches aren't hacks

Most breaches of personal health information stem from "internal issues" among doctors, hospitals and other providers, rather than hacks, according to research from Michigan State University and Johns Hopkins University, published last week in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Between the lines: Earlier research showed that the overall number of health care data breaches — and the number of records exposed from those breaches — is rising. But, according to this latest paper, most of those breaches aren’t hacks.

  • 53% of data breaches were the result of "internal factors," including 25% that stemmed from "unauthorized access or disclosure" — things like a provider taking a patient’s personal information home, or accidentally sending it to the wrong email address.

Yes, but: Large-scale hacks are still responsible for a big share of the total number of records exposed. The 2015 Anthem hack, for example, affected the information of some 80 million people.

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