Hacking and IT Incidents on the Rise

Mar 20, 2021

Health care organizations process and store plenty of protected types of information, including Social Security numbers, medical histories, and more. This can draw the attention of malicious actors, who would seek to obtain this data for monetary gain.

According to the Bitglass Health Care Breach Report, 2021 edition, hacking and IT incidents are on the rise in comparison to other forms of data breaches.

Bitglass breaks breaches into the following categories.

Hacking and IT Incidents

This category describes any breach that’s related to malicious hackers and poor IT security. These issues often stem from external parties.

Unauthorized Disclosure

An unauthorized disclosure is any sharing of private health information (PHI) by internal parties.

Loss or Theft

Breaches that are related to the loss or theft of endpoint devices, such as laptops or smartphones, would fall into this category.


Any breaches and leaks that are related to the improper disposal of documents fall under the heading of “Other.”

What Are the Key Findings from the Report?

There are a number of significant findings from the Bitglass report that can be succinctly summarized:

  • Health care breaches have increased by 55.1% since 2019
  • Hacking and IT incidents were the top cause of breaches, making up 67.3% of the total number of breaches
  • The average cost per breached record increased to $429 in 2020
  • It took the average firm 236 days to recover from a breach

Hacking and IT incidents were three times more common than the next highest category. What’s even more telling is that the breaches caused by hacking and IT incidents exposed 91.2% of all breached records in 2020.

These numbers show the shifting strategies of bad actors. It also shows how health care organizations are struggling to maintain cybersecurity in a shifting cloud-first world.

If we look back to 2014, the most common breach was loss or theft of endpoints. In 2017, hacking and IT incidents rose to prominence, while loss or left plummeted. In 2020, loss or theft was second to last, while hacking and IT incidents are at an all-time high.

How Much Do Breaches Cost?

The average cost of a breach in the health care industry is higher than the cost of a breach in any other industry, at least as of 2020. The cost per breach has risen to $499 per record lost. These breaches have cost the health care industry billions of dollars every year. There are millions of records affected by these breaches.

In 2020, there were 24 million records breached due to hacking and IT incidents. Loss or theft made up the second most with 970,461. As you can see, hacking and IT incidents are costing health care companies billions of dollars per year.

What Can Companies Do to Protect Themselves?

Health care firms are famously reliant on legacy tools that simply do not have the necessary security in place. Upgrading these tools to new work environments that are more security-minded will do wonders for enhancing the security of health care firms.

A comprehensive solution that provides a secure connection between mobile devices and on-site infrastructure should be prioritized, as solutions like this can save firms billions of dollars.

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