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Medical locations among top spots for Social Security data breaches

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Nov. 1, 2010

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Hospitals, medical offices, health insurers and medical businesses, such as pharmaceutical companies and medical billing services, are among the top 10 most dangerous places to give out a Social Security number, according to an analysis of recent data breaches.

Robert Siciliano, an identity theft expert and a consultant for the security technology vendor McAfee, looked at data breaches involving Social Security numbers. The breaches occurred between January 2009 and October 2010. The analyzed breaches were published by the Identity Theft Resource Center, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and the Open Security Foundation.

His analysis found the most dangerous places to give out Social Security numbers are universities and colleges, followed by banking and financial institutions. Hospitals ranked third, and medical businesses came in seventh. Medical insurance companies and medical offices tied for the 10th spot.

Siciliano said Social Security numbers are increasingly being stolen by hackers. He said better computer system security and proper shredding and disposal of documents containing Social Security numbers will help protect consumers.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2010/11/01/bibf1101.htm.

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