Today, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced his office will investigate a data breach that occurred in late August that affected approximately 18,817 Connecticut health care professionals. The American Medical Association reported earlier that this breach involved the personal information, including Social Security numbers, of an estimated 850,000 physicians nationwide. What is most troubling about this breach is that it probably was avoidable.
Like many data breaches, this one involved a stolen laptop, in this case from the employee’s car. However, as NewsTimes.com reported, despite the employer’s encryption policy, the employee downloaded the file to a laptop, without the required encryption, in order to work from home.
Even the best firewalls and other technology-based information system protections cannot save us from ourselves. It was possible here that not only did the employee violate the company’s encryption policy, but he or she also may have exercised poor judgment in leaving the laptop in a car. The ease with which employees acquire, handle and transport massive amounts of sensitive personal information make it critical that businesses ensure their employees have greater awareness of the sensitivity of this information and receive regular training about how to be more cautious handling it. This should be a part of any written information security plan.