Have you ever needed to get an X-ray or an MRI for an injury? It turns out that these images, as well as the health data of millions of Americans, have been sitting unprotected on the internet and available to anyone with basic computer expertise. According to ProPublica, these exposed records affect more than 5 million patients in the U.S. and millions more across the globe, equating to 16 million scans worldwide that are publicly available online.
This exposure affects data used in doctor’s offices, medical imaging centers, and mobile X-ray services. What’s more, the exposed data also contained other personal information such as dates of birth, details on personal physicians, and procedures received by patients, bringing the potential threat of identity theft closer to reality. And while researchers found no evidence of patient data being copied from these systems and published elsewhere, the implications of this much personal data exposed to the masses could be substantial.
To help users lock down their data and protect themselves from fraud and other cyberattacks, we’ve provided the following security tips:
- Be vigilant about checking your accounts. If you suspect that your data has been compromised, frequently check your bank account and credit activity. Many banks and credit card companies offer free alerts that notify you via email or text messages when new purchases are made, if there’s an unusual charge, or when your account balance drops to a certain level. This will help you stop fraudulent activity in its tracks.
- Place a fraud alert. If you suspect that your data might have been compromised, place a fraud alert on your credit. This not only ensures that any new or recent requests undergo scrutiny, but also allows you to have extra copies of your credit report so you can check for suspicious activity.
- Freeze your credit. Freezing your credit will make it impossible for criminals to take out loans or open up new accounts in your name. To do this effectively, you will need to freeze your credit at each of the three major credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian).
- Consider using identity theft protection. A solution like McAfee Identify Theft Protection will help you to monitor your accounts, alert you of any suspicious activity, and help you to regain any losses in case something goes wrong.
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