By the Numbers: 2009-2015 HIPAA Breaches

Here we are six months into 2015 and its time for the midway report on what has happened in the world of HIPAA breaches. It bears mentioning that the numbers below are ONLY representative of events impacting 500 or more individuals and reflects reporting up to June 23, 2015. All of the research below is my own and derives from publicly available data.

2015 Breaches: 1/1/15 – 6/23/15

The first numbers below are a breakdown of the sources of breaches in 2015. The percentage after the number shows what proportion of the overall 2015 breaches are attributable to that source. You will note that the numbers listed below do not equal the total sum, this is because OCR allows for an “other” designation when no other description fits.

Total number of Breaches in 2015: 93,963,272

Number of Breaches Since 1/1/2015 Attributable to:

Paper: 155,729 (0.1%)

Laptops, Desktops, and Portable Electronics: 295,655 (0.3%)

EMR: 22,203 (0.02%)

Email: 515,901 (0.5%)

Network Server: 92,672,601 (75%)

The numbers of 2015 are clearly skewed towards the BCBS, affiliates, and subsidiaries (“BCBS”). The breaches of BCBS account for a tremendous number of impacted individuals. Given the tremendous weight and skewing associated with the BCBS breach, I decided to control for those numbers and run the same report without the two huge BCBS breaches, a total of 89,800,000.

TOTAL NUMBER OF BREACHES IN 2015 (sans BCBS): 4,163,272

Paper: 155,7289 (3.7%)

Laptops, Desktops, and Portable Electronics: 295,655 (7.1%)

EMR: 22,203 (0.5%)

Email: 515,901 (12.4%)

Network Server: 2,872,601 (68.9%)

Whats intriguing is that the numbers are still heavily skewed towards loss attributable to a network server. Even controlling for the huge BCBS numbers, nearly 7 out of 10 stolen PHI records stolen came hacked network servers.

Historical look at the data on breaches

After running through the numbers for 2015, I decided to do a retrospective and look back at the data since reporting began. Here are the total breach numbers and their sources since reporting began in 2009.

Total Number of Breaches Since 2009: 134,870,039

Number of Breaches Since 2009 Attributable to:

Paper: 1,866,133 (1.4%)

Laptops, Desktops, and Portable Electronics: 13,760,826 (10.2%)

EMR: 2,840,852 (2.1%)

Email: 1,399,920 (1.0%)

Network Server: 102,420,230 (75%)

Once again, these numbers skew heavily towards the most recent 2015 mega BCBS breaches. Once again controlling for those number and subtracting them from the report, we get the following percentages.

TOTAL NUMBER OF BREACHES SINCE 2009 (sans bcbs): 34,070,039

Paper: 1,866,133 (5.4%)

Laptops, Desktops, and Portable Electronics: 13,760,826 (40.3%)

EMR: 2,840,852 (8.3%)

Email: 1,399,920 (4.1%)

Network Server: 12,620,230 (37%)

Amazing how once we control for the 2015 BCBS breaches, the numbers seem to almost normalize in a pattern with roughly 2 out of 5 stolen records coming from Laptops, Desktops and Portable Electronics; and 2 out of 5 stolen records coming from breached network servers. This means that approximately 80% of all of the breaches come from those two sources. These numbers really give weight to the idea that encryption and heavily investing in network architecture pays off in the end. This is only highlighted by the recent OPM breaches that were a product of legacy server infrastructure and unencrypted data.

Tarred and Feathered: BCBS, subsidiaries and affiliates

One of the most amazing things I am across in this research was the amazing number of breaches attributable to one organization: BCBS. Of the all time largest breaches, BCBS is responsible the number 1 and number 2 spots, and 6 of top 20 spots.

Total Number of Breaches Attributable to BCBS: 92,803,208

This number represents 68.8% of all breaches since HIPAA reporting began. In full disclosure, my information was stolen in one of their breaches. Even more amazing is the attitude that these breaches are not impacting the individuals who had their data stolen. On the dark web, PHI records often fetch 10-15 times as much money as a credit record and are often much more expensive to fix. According to the recent Medical Identity Fraud Alliance report the average cost to the individuals who have their information stolen and used is $13,500.

Now is the time for change.

/s/ HH @legallevity