Prized PII

If I asked you what specific type of information criminals would like to capture about you, what would be your response? Take a minute and think of something and then leave it in a comment after reading the rest of this.

I know that usually more than one piece of data about me is needed, and while most of this data is probably somewhere in a database, and perhaps leaked in a breach, it’s not necessarily organized. I still think it’s good to protect information where I can. Every year my wife laughs as people wish me Happy Birthday in Facebook, on a day that’s not my birthday. I think any day is as good as any other to wish me well, and so I disclose April 1 to my friends. In fact, I often disclose a slightly incorrect birthday when sites and organizations ask me, unless I have some legal obligation to type in my real date.

There was an article that caught my eye about the data that thieves most often want. It opens with a story about pharmacists using personal data to bill insurance for non-existent medications, which is criminal activity for sure, but there’s not much you can do about these people using your data. The piece then goes on to talk about the value of healthcare fraud and how data related to this is even more valuable than credit card numbers.

That isn’t something I’d have expected, though, I do live in the US. With the high cost of healthcare, I shouldn’t be surprised. Fraud is big business, and there is a large volume of claims, providers, and statements that people have to review. If you’ve tried to go through your statements, they often don’t seem to be easily relate-able to the treatment you may have received. I think this creates opportunity for fraud, as it might not be something an individual can catch.

I haven’t worked with healthcare data, but I suspect anyone that does will need extra protection on their systems, and certainly encryption along with the prevention of PII in non-production environments is important. I also think this is the type of data that you may want to be more careful about in your own life. Though how you can be more careful escapes me.

Steve Jones

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