Patient Data Found Dumped in Alleyway

A large amount of confidential patient data has been found dumped in a Bournemouth alleyway, according to reports by the Daily Echo.

A passer-by stumbled across a number of black plastic ribbons which apparently contain counterfoil prescription label information, patients’ names, dates-of-birth, addresses and doctor details along with NHS patient numbers.

The details have been passed onto the NHS and an investigation is now underway to get to the bottom of how they wound up in the alleyway in the first place.

An ICO spokesperson said: “We’re aware of a potential incident and are making enquiries.”

Whilst there were no medical details on the plastic strips, the sensitivity of the information they do contain could, in the wrong hands, easily be used for malicious intent. It has been clear for some time that the medical industry is becoming a big target for hackers who recognize the potential value of securing patient data, so the fact that this information was found in such a publicly accessible place is a huge concern.

“In these days of massive database breaches, it seems very strange to read of confidential data being found in this physical form,” David Harley, ESET senior research fellow told Infosecurity. “Apart from potential risks to those whose data was exposed, there should be concern about how it got where it was found.”

Harley added that the dangers surrounding both the theft and loss of patient data can have damaging repercussions for the individuals to whom the data refers and often leads to illegal transgressions like the generation of fake IDs, substance buying/selling and fraudulent insurance claims.

“Individuals can be severely disadvantaged, for instance when they’re billed for medical services that have been obtained (or merely charged for) fraudulently in their names. This is a serious problem in the US, and becoming more common in the UK as privatized medical care becomes more common.”

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