More than 1 Billion Medical Images Exposed Online By Doctors and Hospitals

Of the 1 billion scans, more than half belong to Americans.

It’s not that doctors and hospitals want to share our personal information online, they’re just… lazy.  It’s all about passwords.

The medical community uses a type of file, DICOM, that makes it easy to store multiple images in a single file and then share them with other medical professionals.  These files are stored on PACS servers, which are then connected to the internet.  Unfortunately, many in the medical community don’t use password protocol to protect their PACS servers, which exposes all the files to the internet, where anyone with easy-to-download software can view them.

Dirk Schrader leads the research at Germany-based security firm Greenbone Networks, which has been monitoring the number of exposed servers for the past year.

In an interview, Schrader said:

“It seems to get worse every day.”  

Greenbone found 24 million patient exams storing more than 720 million medical images in September.  By November, the number of exposed servers had increased by more than half, to 35 million patient exams, exposing 1.19 billion scans and representing a considerable violation of patient privacy.

Schrader and Greenbone have warned the medical community, but the problem is growing at a faster rate than they can get providers to secure their data.

 

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