In a noticeable and concerning continuation of the trend of healthcare data breaches, Managed Care of North America (MCNA) Dental, one of America’s largest dental health insurers, has become the latest victim of a ransomware attack. The attack has compromised the personal information of nearly nine million individuals across the United States, adding to the increasing number of cyber incidents in the healthcare sector. This has made the MCNA Dental data breach the largest healthcare data breach of 2023.
This incident comes just a month after the million-patient records compromise at NextGen Healthcare, which highlighted the vulnerability of healthcare organizations to cyberattacks. The rapid digitization of patient data has opened avenues for cybercriminals to exploit sensitive information, leading to a surge in cybersecurity threats faced by the industry.
MCNA Dental’s Notice of Data Breach
MCNA Dental, based in Atlanta and known as the largest dental insurer in the nation for government-sponsored plans covering children and seniors, experienced unauthorized activity in its computer system between February 26, 2023, and March 7, 2023 the company said in a recent notice. A criminal gained access to and made copies of various personal and medical information stored in their database.
What Data Was Involved in the Breach
The compromised data includes patients’ names, addresses, dates of birth, contact numbers, email addresses, Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, government-issued ID numbers, health insurance details (such as plan information, member numbers, and Medicaid-Medicare ID numbers), as well as dental care records, bills, and insurance claims. The stolen information is highly valuable to cybercriminals, who can exploit it for identity theft, financial fraud, and other malicious purposes.
Response and Measures Taken
MCNA Dental has reported the incident to law enforcement authorities and has initiated measures to enhance the security of their computer systems. The organization is committed to preventing similar breaches in the future.
Identity Theft Protection Services Offered
To mitigate the potential risks faced by affected individuals, MCNA Dental is offering a free identity theft protection service for one year. This service will assist in monitoring and safeguarding personal information. Individuals are encouraged to sign up for the service and carefully review their bills and financial accounts to detect any suspicious activity.
Largest Health Information Breach of 2023 Calls for Urgent Need for Strong Cybersecurity
The scale of this data breach is alarming, as MCNA Dental Data Breach is now recognized as the largest breach of healthcare data and information in 2023 thus far. This breach, similar to the NextGen Healthcare incident, underscores the urgent need for robust cybersecurity measures within the healthcare sector. It highlights the increasing risks faced by healthcare providers and insurers as cybercriminals actively target their systems to gain unauthorized access to valuable data.
Impact on Healthcare Networks and Third-Party Vendors
The MCNA Dental breach adds to the concerning statistics revealing that healthcare breaches account for nearly 50% of all data breaches in the United States. The industry’s digital transformation has inadvertently created opportunities for cybercriminals to target vast volumes of personal health information. As seen in both cases, repeated incidents of cyberattacks raise questions about the effectiveness of security protocols implemented by healthcare organizations.
How to Mitigate Data Breach Risks in Healthcare Networks including Third-Party Vendors
The consequences of these breaches extend beyond individual healthcare providers, as evidenced by the recent mass hack that targeted numerous companies, including healthcare providers. The breach compromised the data of over 3 million NationBenefits members, showcasing the potential impact on entire networks of companies and their customers.
To mitigate the risks of data breaches in healthcare, organizations must proactively secure their systems and protect patient data.
- Robust cybersecurity measures, including strong firewalls, malware detection tools, and encryption techniques, should be implemented.
- Regular security audits and assessments are crucial for identifying vulnerabilities and addressing them promptly.
- This incident emphasizes the critical importance of thoroughly vetting third-party vendors and software providers for potential security weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
- Comprehensive employee training is needed to recognize and respond effectively to cyber threats.
The MCNA Dental breach highlights the increasing cybersecurity threats faced by the healthcare sector. As the healthcare industry continues to embrace digital advancements, it must prioritize the security and privacy of patient data by safeguarding against potential breaches.
Source: MCNA Notice