The internet is not your friend. No matter how much we depend on it for communication, shopping, research, data transfers and other seemingly benign uses, it remains a soulless network of wires, signals, servers and switches that is capable of improving our lives or ruining them.
It is both a front door to the world beyond and a backdoor to people’s private and theoretically secret personal information. It is a conduit that permits the flow of information without regard to the senders’ veracity or intent.
That’s why the breach of Coastal Hospice’s data last summer, as disturbing as it is considering the facility’s clientele, is not that surprising. This sort of thing is happening with increasing frequency.
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s 2023 Data Breach Report issued last month, the number of publicly reported data compromises last year rose by 78 percent, to 3,205 instances, affecting more than 353 million people.
Sitting at or near the top of the list of targets are healthcare providers and services, which are hard-pressed to keep up with criminals for whom hacking and other nefarious pursuits are their full-time occupations.
Consequently, the security breach at Coastal Hospice, just like the hijacking of Atlantic General Hospital’s computer system last year, is not the result of lax security on its part. Like the thousands of other victims that experienced data break-ins last year, hospice officials can only address the threats they are aware of, not the ones that are still under development by the criminal element.
Apparently, the Coastal Hospice data breach did not inflict a great amount of damage, but the individuals notified of the incident should follow its advice: check credit card accounts and other information for signs of tampering, and contact the hospice call center with any questions.
These days, exercising extra caution is a good practice to follow, especially since there’s no way of knowing who might be cruising on the information highway.