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Genetic Testing Lab Hack Affects 233,000

Second Largest Health Data Breach So Far This Year

… “Labs are handling more tests than in normal times, increasing the amount of patient data stored, processed or transmitted,” says Keith Fricke, principal consultant at tw-Security.

“Criminals may see this as another source of information to steal for financial gain. Additionally, IT departments continue to focus on the support needs of a remote workforce and setting up technology infrastructure for COVID-19 triage and treatment tents. Consequently, less time may be spent on monitoring network activity, unless a third party is contracted to monitor network and system event logs.”

… “Hacking usually yields the largest access to patient information,” Fricke notes. “Unprotected portable devices that are lost or stolen can contain a lot of information, but generally not as much as a clinical system with a database of patients.”

… But unauthorized access to “raw” genetic data is not of concern as much as the interpretation of the genetic test data, Fricke of tw-Security says. “Mental health data is certainly in the category of ‘more sensitive’ by way of comparison. In any case, any medical information subject to unauthorized access and exposure is not good. What criminals threaten to do with or actually do with any compromised data, genetic testing-related or otherwise is of concern.”

Susan Lucci, a senior privacy and security consultant at tw-Security, says the COVID-19 crisis will fuel the threats that have already been playing out in the healthcare sector.

Hacking “has been trending consistently higher every year since 2012 with no indicators of slowing down,” she says. “As we move further into 2020, evidence shows that hacking of healthcare by any possible means will continue.”


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