Phishing a Real Threat to Healthcare, No Fooling

Scott Mace, April 2, 2013

It was a long holiday weekend several years ago, and I received a message on Facebook from someone I trusted, a longtime acquaintance from a well-known high-tech company. He had posted something to my Facebook wall. I thought it was benign. But his Facebook account had been compromised, and now I had been phished.

I knew about phishing; essentially it's an email fraud scam or online con game. I thought I would be safe if I only opened messages from people I knew, on networks I believed to be safe. I spent the next day, however, profusely apologizing to my Facebook friends, who now had postings to their own Facebook walls, from me, inviting them to click and be sucked into the digital chaos. We all had a good non-laugh changing our passwords and apologizing on down the line.

I was lucky that the only harm I suffered was a little embarrassment. And I now I know I'm in pretty good company. Last week, we learned that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has been the victim of credit-card fraud. The court did not provide any other details, according to the Associated Press. But if you ask me, the odds are that Justice Roberts had been phished.

As we recover from our annual holiday of pranks, let's take a moment to assess our preparedness for the digital pranks continuing to head our way that are no laughing matter. Healthcare is on particular notice as of last week, when revised Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations took effect, and enforcement in September suddenly seems a lot closer.

Scott Mace

Scott Mace is the former senior technology editor for HealthLeaders Media. He is now the senior editor, custom content at H3.Group.


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