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Consumers Concerned About Medical Device Security

The importance consumers place on the privacy and security of their health information has been explored in a recent nCipher Security survey.

The survey was conducted on 1,300 U.S. consumers and explored attitudes toward online privacy, the sharing of sensitive information, and data breaches.

The survey revealed consumers are more concerned about their financial information being hacked than their health information. 42% of respondents said their biggest cybersecurity concern was their financial information being stolen, compared to 14% whose main concern was the theft of their health data.

Concern about financial losses is understandable. Theft of financial information can have immediate and potentially very serious consequences. Theft of health data may not be viewed to be as important by comparison, but consumers are still concerned about the consequences of a breach of their personal information.

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Over one third of consumers said they were worried that hackers would tamper with their data and 44% were concerned about identity theft after a data breach. 22% of consumers said they were concerned that the hacking of a connected device would jeopardize their health.

The survey explored the main privacy and security concerns related to the sharing of personal information. The biggest privacy concerns were providing SSNs or credit card numbers over the phone (46%), online banking (35%) and online shopping (34%). 16% of respondents thought their private information was most vulnerable when downloading health records or using an internet-connected medical device.

An increasing number of people are now using personal devices to track their movements and monitor their health. Only 37% of survey respondents said they do not record health metrics on some kind of internet-connected device.

23% of consumers use smartphones for that purpose, 135 have internet-connected scales, 12% wear fitness trackers, and 10% use an Apple Watch or similar device. 19% of consumers connect to their provider’s website to track and record their health information.

The survey suggests many consumers have strong feelings about medical device security. More than half of respondents (52%) believed the best way to protect personal data on medical devices is encryption. In the event of a cyberattack, personal information would not be put at risk.

35% of consumers said they should be required to validate their devices regularly to better protect privacy and 31% of respondents thought medical devices should be independently certified.  18% are in favor of government-controlled medical devices. 17% of respondents said executives should be fired if personal healthcare data is exposed, including executives at medical device manufacturers.

Author: Steve Alder is the editor-in-chief of HIPAA Journal. Steve is responsible for editorial policy regarding the topics covered on HIPAA Journal. He is a specialist on healthcare industry legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA and other related legal topics. Steve has developed a deep understanding of regulatory issues surrounding the use of information technology in the healthcare industry and has written hundreds of articles on HIPAA-related topics.