Privacy Concerns, Medical Information Breaches and Choosing a Secure VoIP Provider

When you’re picking an IP telephony provider security needs to sit at the top of your list of concerns, and this is doubly true if you’re going to be signing up for a full remote-hosted networking solution, including any sort of cloud storage. Every organization needs to be extremely concerned about network security, yet organizations in certain fields need to be even more concerned with security breaches than others.

Take the example of the medical community.

The medical community needs the strongest possible security systems for their remotely hosted data and communication services for two big reasons:

  1. The medical community handles highly sensitive information. Not only do they handle lots of billing and insurance information, they also store identifying patient information (often including social security numbers) in addition to sensitive medical information. There’s a reason why the medical community abides by HIPAA, and insecure hosted UC solutions are going to be an increasing problem, and form a larger and larger debate, in the medical community over the next decade as more organizations make the switch to remote communication services and as more medical organizations digitize their files.
  2. Because of the sensitivity and potential profitability of the information they handle, medical communities are also high value targets to malicious individuals, and as such medical communities are highly prone to security attacks.

Both of these points boil down to a single, unfortunate fact- if medical communities utilize remote network solutions with poor security safeguards, those medical communities will experience security breaches.

The Harsh Reality, By the Numbers

We’re not tossing wild speculation out here when it comes to medical communities and security threats- a recent report by CloudTweaks demonstrates just how commonly, and just how costly, security breaches hit medical organizations.

According to the report:

  • 94% of healthcare organizations they’ve polled reported a security breach over the last two years.
  • 45% of polled organizations experienced over five significant breaches over the last two years.
  • The U.S. Department of Health predicted 21 million patients will have their medical records breached over the next three years.
  • In 2012 alone, 48% of security breaches resulted in stolen medical files, 48% resulted in stolen billing and insurance records, 20% resulted in stolen prescription details. 13% resulted in stolen monthly payment information, 24% resulted in stolen payment details, and 19% resulted in stolen scheduling details. When security breaches occur, they result in significant and dangerous data theft. 29% of organizations consider patient billing data the most at-risk data from security breaches.
  • 50% of organizations believe they won’t be able to even identify security breaches when they occur, and/or what patient data has been stolen or lost because of a security breach.
  • 36% of breaches are only discovered due to patient complaints, while 52% of detections come from security audits.
  • Each security breach results in an average of 2,769 stolen or lost records.
  • The average security breach costs a medical organization $2.4 million over the course of the two years following the incident.
  • 42% of security breaches occur due to mistakes made by third party organizations (ie: remote network providers).

Even if you aren’t in the medical field these numbers should shock you. When proper security measures aren’t taken breaches are incredibly common in the world of remotely hosted and managed communications systems. Every organization has some sort of sensitive data it would rather keep a tight hold on, and that’s only possible when an organization chooses a truly safe, secure and security-oriented provider to work with.

When picking a communications and VoIP provider to work with you must keep security your #1 concern- especially if you’re handling someone else’s sensitive information.