October was Cybersecurity Awareness Month, but that didn’t stop healthcare breaches from surging with 2,817,162 patients affected by breaches last month. The vast majority of 2021 October healthcare breaches were hacking incidents targeting healthcare providers.

There were a total of 49 healthcare breaches listed on the OCR breach portal in October:

Type of entity breached

  • 37 healthcare providers reported incidents (2,261,319 patients, 80.27% of total patients affected)
  • 6 business associates reported incidents (538,994 patients, 19.13% of total patients affected)
  • 6 health plans reported incidents (16,849 patients, 0.60% of total patients affected)

2021 October Healthcare Breaches

Type of breach reported

  • 24 hacking incidents (2,607,373 patients, 92.55% of total patients affected)
  • 21 unauthorized access or disclosure incidents (200,386 patients, 7.11% of total patients affected)
  • 3 theft incidents (8,575 patients, 0.30% of total patients affected)
  • 1 loss incident (828 patients, 0.03% of total patients affected)

2021 October Healthcare Breaches: Hacking Incidents

One of the biggest threats that face the healthcare industry is hacking. Hackers are increasingly targeting healthcare organizations due to the wealth of information held on patients (protected health information). This information can be used to perpetrate further attacks, commit financial fraud, or steal a patient’s identity. Hackers also target healthcare organizations in ransomware attacks as they know they are likely to pay, “The mere fact of systems being unavailable causes huge disruption to these organizations. And thus, there is probably a perception amongst these actors that despite the bad look of targeting a healthcare organization, a healthcare organization is going to have a stronger argument to potentially pay a ransom in order to get their system online” – Jeremey Kennelly, senior manager and principal analyst at Mandiant.

Hacking incidents continue to be a leading cause behind healthcare breaches, including 2021 October healthcare breaches. These hacks stemmed from different areas:

  • 19 network server hacks (2,383,573 patients, 91.42% of patients affected by hacking)
  • 5 email hacks (223,800 patients, 8.58% of patients affected by hacking)

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17 Healthcare Providers Targeted, 2,066,430 Patients, 79.25% of Patients Affected by Hacking