Is Your Email a Risk to Patients’ PHI?

Yes, email can be an easy target for hackers to gain access to your patient’s protected health information (PHI).

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Recently, a compromised employee email account led Michigan Medicine to notify almost 3,000 patients that their information may have been compromised.

In the Michigan Medicine incident, a cyberattacker gained access to the employee’s email and sent phishing emails from the account.

The employee realized the account was compromised 14 days after initial access was gained by the cyberattacker and the employee reported the situation to the IT department. The employee’s account was disabled and password changed.

Some emails contained PHI, including names, medical record numbers, addresses, dates of birth, diagnostic and treatment information, and health insurance information.

While it is unknown whether the hacker was interested in PHI or not, Michigan Medicine still had to notify all patients that were potentially impacted.

It’s essential to protect your practice, so that you can avoid potential cyberattacks.

How can you protect your patients’ PHI from email cyberattacks?

Make sure your security protections are up to date.

Train your employees to look out for potential red flags or suspicious activities and make sure they know who to report suspicious activity to and when to report.

Make sure your employees only access email through secure devices and locations.

And finally, make sure your employees are frequently changing their passwords for all accounts.

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