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The FBI has warned healthcare providers their cybersecurity systems are lax compared to other sectors, making them vulnerable to attacks by hackers.
Health data is far more valuable to hackers on the black market than credit card numbers because it tends to contain details that can be used to access bank accounts or obtain prescriptions for controlled substances, says a Reuters report.
"The healthcare industry is not as resilient to cyber intrusions compared to the financial and retail sectors, therefore the possibility of increased cyber intrusions is likely," the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a private notice it has been distributing to healthcare providers, obtained by Reuters.
The notice, dated April 8, did not mention the Obamacare website, Healthcare.gov, which has been criticized by opponents of the Obama administration for security flaws, Reuters said. It urged recipients to report suspicious or criminal activity to local FBI bureaus or the agency's 24/7 Cyber Watch.
Demand for medical information, Reuters said, remains strong on criminal marketplaces, experts said, partly because it takes victims longer to realize the information has been stolen and report it, and because of the different ways the information can be used.
The two-page FBI alert cited a February 2014 report from the non-profit SANS Institute, which trains cybersecurity professionals. Reuters said. SANS had warned the healthcare industry was not well-prepared to fight growing cyber threats, pointing to hundreds of attacks on radiology imaging software, video conferencing equipment, routers and firewalls.