The exposé of the hacker group Fancy Bear about the medical records of famous American athletes is just a tip of the iceberg of the vulnerability of the medical records of American citizens.
In August 2016 alone, health data security company Protenus reported that 8,804,608 medical records of U.S. citizens were breached.
Protenus added that 29% of the breaches involved hacking, malware or the increasing menace of ransomware. One incident alone, involving 3,620,000 medical records, was a result of hacking, according to Protenus.
While this over 8 million breach may seem staggering, the number of patient records breached reached 11 million in June 2016 alone. The bulk (10.3 million) of these breached patient records is attributed to one hacking incident, the health data security company reported.
Protenus added that a total of 126,930 breached patient records was reported in July this year alone. The largest single breach in July 2016, involving 23,565 records, was the handiwork of the hacker group that goes by the name TheDarkOverlord.
In the report entitled “Your Life, Repacked and Resold: The Deep Web Exploitation of Health Sector Breach Victims” published by the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology (ICIT), almost 100 million of the compromised medical records in 2015 came from just three hacking incidents of these three American health insurance companies: Anthem Inc., Premera Blue Cross, and Excellus Health Plan Inc.
In June this year, security researcher Dissent Doe reported that the hacker group TheDarkOverlord tried to sell on the deep web 9.3 million medical records from an unnamed U.S. health insurer for the price of 750 Bitcoin, roughly $500,000.
Why cyber attacks in the health sector succeed?
As early as April 2014, in a bulletin published on the American Hospital Association website, the FBI warned that “The deadline to transition to EHR is January 2015, which will create an influx of new EHR coupled with more medical devices being connected to the Internet, generating a rich new environment for cyber criminals to exploit.”
Way back in 2014, the FBI bulletin stated that cyber criminals were selling patient records on the black market at a rate of $50 for every partial EHR. The FBI added that EHR can then be used to advance identity theft, obtain prescription medication or to file fraudulent insurance claims.
According to ICIT [PDF], one of the reasons why cyber attacks in the health sector are successful is that a U.S. law – the Affordable Care Act – has increased healthcare providers’ incentive to transition to EHR without requiring an investment in software, hardware or IT staff.
The EHR, which stands for Electronic Health Record (EHR), is a digital version of a patient’s medical chart. It contains basic identification data of the patient, vital signs, health problems, medications, past medical history, immunizations and laboratory reports.
According to the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in August this year, Advocate Health Care Network paid the Department $5.55 million to settle a data breach case. To date, the Advocate settlement is the largest settlement involving a single entity.
In 2013, Advocate reported to the Office for Civil Rights several breach incidents involving its subsidiary, Advocate Medical Group. Four million individuals were affected by the cyber attacks against Advocate.
“We hope this settlement sends a strong message to covered entities that they must engage in a comprehensive risk analysis and risk management to ensure that individuals’ ePHI (electronic protected health information) is secure,” Jocelyn Samuels, Director of the Office for Civil Rights, said in a statement.
In July this year, the Oregon Health & Science University and University of Mississippi Medical Center paid the Department close to $2.7 million each to settle their respective data breach cases.
Images from Shutterstock and iStock.
Ethereum Notches Two-Month High as Bitcoin Offspring Triggers Volatility
Digital currency Ethereum climbed to a two-month high on Monday, taking some of the heat off Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, which have slumped since the weekend.
Ethereum Forges Higher Path
Concerns over Bitcoin created a favourable tailwind for Ethereum (ETH/USD), which is the world’s No. 2 digital currency by total assets. Ether’s price topped $340.00 on Monday and later settled at $323.54. That was the highest since June 20.
At its peak, ether was up 10% on the day and 70% for the month of August.
The ETH/USD was last down 2.2% at $315.02, according to Bitfinex. Prices are due for a brisk recovery, based on the daily momentum indicators.
Fractured Bitcoin Community
Bitcoin and its offshoot, Bitcoin Cash, retreated on Monday following a volatile weekend. The BTC/USD slumped at the start of the week and was down more than 3% on Tuesday, with prices falling below $3,900.00. Just last week, Bitcoin was trading at new records near $4,500.00.
Bitcoin Cash, which emerged after the Aug. 1 hard fork, climbed to new records on Saturday, but has been in free-fall ever since. The BTH was down another 20% on Tuesday to $594.49, according to CoinMarketCap. Its total market value has dropped by several billion over the past two days.
Analysts say that a “fractured” Bitcoin community has made Ethereum a more attractive bet this week. The ether token has shown remarkable poise over the past seven days, despite trading well shy of a new record.
Other drivers behind Ethereum’s advance are steady demand from South Korean investors and growing confidence in a smooth upgrade for the the ETH network. The upgrade, which has been dubbed “Metropolis,” is expected in the next several weeks. Its key benefits include tighter transaction privacy and greater efficiency.
Ethereum Prices Unaffected by ICO Heist
Fin-tech developer Enigma was on the receiving end of a cyber-heist on Monday after hackers took over the company’s website, mailing list and instant messaging platforms. The hack occurred three weeks before Enigma’s planned Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for September 11.
In addition to defacing the company’s website, the hackers pushed a special “pre-sale” ahead of the ICO. While many users realized it was a scam, 1,492 ether tokens – valued at $495,000 – were directed into the hackers’ cryptocurrency wallet by unsuspecting backers.
The irony in all this is that Engima is a cryptography company that prides itself on top-notch security protocols. The company issued a statement that its servers had not been compromised.
Ethereum Prices on Track for 35% Monthly Drop
It has been a difficult month for ethereum. The world’s No. 2 digital currency has lost a third of its value over the past 30 days following a series of cyber breaches targeting vulnerable wallets and ICOs.
Ethereum Struggles to Regain Momentum
Ethereum (ETH/USD) was trading near $197.00 Sunday at 6:30 BST, according to Bitfinex. That represents a decline of around 5%. At current values, ethereum’s market cap was $18.4 billion.
The ETH/USD exchange rate has struggled throughout July, with prices briefly falling below $160.00. The decline, which amounted to a 60-day low, lured bargain-hunters back into the market. After surging back toward $250.00, the ETH/USD has consolidated below the $220-mark, which continues to offer strong resistance. On the opposite side of the spectrum, major support is located at $180.00.
A price recovery may prove elusive in the short-term, with the Relative Strength Index (RSI) and Stochastic indicator signalling weak underlying momentum.
Despite its recent decline, ethereum’s value has surged more than 2,200% this year.
Cyber Attacks, SEC Weigh on Market
The ethereum network suffered a large-scale cyber breach earlier this month resulting in the loss of tens of millions of dollars. A community of ethical hackers quickly banded together to “rescue” hundreds of millions of dollars worth of tokens.
Blockchain-based trading platform Coindash was also hijacked during an initial coin offering (ICO). The breach exposed Coindash’s ether wallet address, resulting in the loss of $7 million worth of ether.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has also taken an interest in the ethereum-based ICO market. Last week, the regulator concluded that a certain multi-million dollar token sale last year violated securities law. Although ICOs have been compared to crowd-sourcing, the SEC maintained that some tokens were in fact securities.
Analysts say the SEC ruling could impact the future of ICOs, although it remains unclear how the regulator is pursuing this market. The SEC’s July 25 press release cautions investors about ICOs in general.
Coders Safeguard Vulnerable Ethereum Wallets Following Security Breach
Ethereum suffered large-scale security breaches last week after anonymous hackers targeted vulnerable wallets in the network, resulting in the loss of tens of millions of dollars. However, it didn’t take long for a volunteer group of coders to “rescue” the funds in 500 at-risk wallets before the same attackers could get to them too.
White Hat Group Takes Charge
The so-called White Hat Group showed initiative by “rescuing” the funds using the same techniques the thieves employed to compromise $32 million USD worth of ether from three multi-signature wallets. As of Monday, the White Hat Group of ethical hackers was in possession of $86 million worth of ether and an additional $122 million in tokens.
Tokens are digital assets that are sold during an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) fundraising event. They have proven to be extremely popular.
Tens of millions of dollars worth of ether and tokens have already been returned to their owners. The White Hat Group says it will issue full refunds by the end of July.
Blockchain-based trading platform Coindash was also breached last week, resulting in the loss of more than $7 million worth of ether.
Security Breaches Nothing New in Crypto World
For all its benefits, cryptocurrency has been vulnerable to several high-profile security breaches. Last summer, Hong Kong-based Bitfinex was the target of a major attack that resulted in the theft of around $70 million worth of bitcoins. In response, the exchange announced a controversial plans to “socialize” its losses among all users. Each Bitfinex trader was docked 36% as a result.
Bitcoin prices declined sharply following the attack, stopping what had been a blistering summer of gains.
Ethereum Enterprise Alliance
For anyone doubting the potential of the ether, take a look at the list of companies participating in the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA). The EEA is a forum that connects Fortune 500 companies, startups and academics with ethereum subject matter experts. The EEA is made up of multinational banks and some of the world’s biggest technology companies.
The forum has made cyber security a top priority, according to a May 22 press release. In the release, companies like Infosys, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Synechron and others expressed their intent to contribute to the future of ethereum’s security.
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