Protecting Customer Data: Don’t Trade Security for Convenience

October 26, 2023

General agencies and brokers alike are intrinsically linked to an industry that represents an irresistible target to hackers: healthcare. By its nature, healthcare requires the collection and storage of highly sensitive patient information. Protecting that information is critically important.

Brokers can go a long way toward protecting customer data by teaming up with a general agency that provides secure enrollment and submission technology. More on that later. But first, let's take a look at how big a problem cybersecurity is within the healthcare sector.

A Primary Target for Hackers

A bit of research into healthcare data breaches reveals some surprising realities. For example, did you know that 30% of all data breaches affect hospitals? That's just one of more than 25 surprising data points offered by Tech Jury's Raj Vardhman, Ivailo Ivanov, and Zak Kann.

Here are a few more surprising statistics from their report:

Each of the statistics helps paint a very clear picture of how vulnerable the healthcare industry is. But perhaps the most shocking statistic of all is this: 95% of all identity theft cases are the result of stolen healthcare information. That is incredible.

Millions of Records Compromised

One of the more unfortunate aspects of healthcare data breaches is the sheer volume of people impacted by a single incident. In one of the largest healthcare data breaches of 2022, more than 4 million patients with ties to a Wisconsin healthcare marketer were affected.

In another case from that same year, an Illinois-Wisconsin hospital group experienced a breach that affected 3 million patients. Another 2.2 million were affected by a breach involving a Pennsylvania healthcare software developer.

Email Is a Big Problem

Although data breaches can be triggered by a variety of means, email continues to be a big problem. Unfortunately, there is a pervasive myth suggesting that email is a secure form of communication with a low risk of hacking. It really isn't.

The best way to secure email is to encrypt it. But even encrypted email can be intercepted and hacked by someone who knows what they are doing. In addition, phishing scams, malware breaches, and other forms of hacking utilize email to take advantage of social engineering to obtain network access information. The majority of unauthorized entry attacks are successful because unsuspecting email recipients fall victim to social engineering.

Avoiding Email Is Wise

Avoiding email is a wise move when it comes to working with sensitive customer data such as Personal Identifiable Information (PII) and PHI. As a broker, it’s critical to ensure you and your agency are utilizing secure technologies that allow you to transmit sensitive customer data in a secure environment.

This technology is usually implemented as a cloud-based portal through which everything from preparing quotes to signing up subscribers and case submission takes place. And because the cloud environment is a closed one, unsecure emails are not being sent back and forth.

The healthcare sector will continue to be a popular target simply because it offers so much information hackers find valuable. You can help protect your customers and their employees by deploying secure technology and by working with a general agency that provides secure digital enrollment technology that keeps your client’s sensitive data private and secure. Protecting customer information is not only good for your customers and their employees; it is also good for your book of business. It makes you a hero in your customer's eyes.

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