Leaked Medical Records Common on P2P Networks

If there’s anything worse than having your personal information leaked online, it’s finding your personal information along with your medical records leaked online. Unfortunately, the latter is more common than you might think. Over the course of a two-week study by Dartmouth College, researchers found a wide range of sensitive documents, from a spreadsheet of 232 AIDs patients to a 1,718-page document detailing more than 20,000 people’s Social Security numbers, insurance records, and diagnosis information.

So how does this information end up online? Many health care providers aren’t aware of the dangers involved with these online networks, or the extent to which data can be compromised. Patient information could be leaked, for example, when shared music files and personal data are stored in the same folder. Similarly, many types of malware, once downloaded, can expose these files to the wider Web. William Miaoulis, manager at Phoenix Health Systems, told SC Magazine US that “any time you open up your network there are some security risks.”

This is a serious problem. Not only can this type of information leak lead to identity theft and fraud, but it can also lead to employees getting fired, or potential employees being turned down from jobs because of their medical history. There’s really no limit to the potential damage that can be caused. While digitizing medical records has its benefits — even big-name companies like Google are getting in on the action — if it’s not incredibly secure, we’ll stick with stacks of paper and manila folders for now. [

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