What Happens to Your Stolen Medical Data

It’s pretty obvious why you’d want to keep personal information private, like passwords and credit card data. But medical data might not be as obvious: why would hackers care whether I have diabetes? Thanks to a new report, we now know a little more about what happens when healthcare systems’ data is breached.

According to the report, hackers can turn around and sell stolen data on the dark web. The most valuable health information isn’t actually your medical information, but rather documents that would help people commit other types of fraud:

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  • Documents that would let someone pretend to be a doctor or other legit health care provider: for example, malpractice insurance papers and medical licenses. (This data sells for around $500.)
  • Health insurance cards, prescriptions, and drug labels. With these, somebody could fill a prescription that isn’t theirs (or forge one that looks legit). With a forged card, someone could get your insurance to pay for their care. (These go for $10 to $120.)
  • Logins to health insurance websites, which can be used to get extra information to combine with the above. The goal here is the same as with a forged insurance card: to get medical care with somebody else footing the bill.

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There isn’t much you can do if your hospital’s or doctor’s information gets breached. But this information shows how important it is for those companies—and for you—to keep medical documents secure.

For example, you’d probably never email somebody a photo of your credit card, but you might not realize an insurance card is also valuable data that can turn your life upside down if somebody else were to use it pretending to be you. So keep your medical documents as private as you can, and if your hospital, lab, or local health system gets hacked, refer to our guide to what to do in case of a data breach.

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