Special Report: How you can protect your medical records from hackers

Special Report: How you can protect your medical records from hackers

WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- Hackers are stealing millions of medical records -- social security numbers, addresses, emails, credit cards, even fingerprints, and photos. Everything they need to become you.

"It's just a treasure trove of all this information about you," said Gary Cantrell with the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Cantrell with the US Health and Human Services Department says he sees this all the time.

Just in 2018, the agency handled nearly 400 reports of medical data breaches.

"Sometimes they're compromising this data and we don't know-- how it's being used, when or if it will be used-- to compromise those individuals' identities," said Cantrell.

But the biggest question is how are they getting these records?

  • Hacking or IT incidents
  • Phishing attacks through email
  • Network servers
  • Cell phones

"They want to monetize these records quickly, and they're actually offering them at a discount compared to other prices I've seen on the dark web," said Gary Millefsky with Cyber Defense Magazine Publisher.

This information often sells for anywhere from $1 to thousands.

In Wisconsin, hackers have stolen thousands of records in researching this story.

CBS 58 News was able to find evidence of that and it's all online for you at home to check out for yourself.

A hacking incident at Unity Point Health affected approximately over 75,000. The breach of a network server in Adams County affected nearly 260,000.

"One of our most important missions is to mitigate that vulnerability as quickly as possible. And that means communicating with those individuals who oversee the systems."

Something like this can really make you feel helpless so what can you do? 

Be wary if someone offers your free health products or services, but requires you to provide sensitive information.

Don't share medical or insurance information by phone or email unless you initiated the contact and known who you're dealing with.

Experts suggest not giving out unnecessary information. You don't need to when filing out forms, only give what's required. And don't save your credit card details on patient portals or websites. 

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