300,000 More Records Lost! When Organized Crime Gets Organized – Look Out

February 17, 2007

We learn today of yet another massive loss of health records. Backup tapes containing data on 300,000 health plan subscribers were stolen from an office of managed care negotiators Concentra Preferred Systems. The thieves were looking for more readily disposable loot, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal:

Thieves who stole the tapes also broke into five other businesses in the building, taking cash, pharmaceuticals, and other readily disposable items. Because of that, police have said they don’t believe the thieves were sophisticated criminals seeking the computer tapes. “We have absolutely no reason to believe that the information that was on the tapes, or the tapes themselves, were the intended target of the thieves,” (Wellpoint spokesman Jim) Kappel said.

Many of data losses happen the same way. Thieves steal other items and pick up something containing confidential data – a laptop, tapes, diskettes, etc. – along the way.

Unfortunately, there are smart people in the organized crime business. They don’t let opportunities pass by for long. One of these days word is going to get around that there’s a hot market for identity data, and that you can contact “X” if you pick up anything with computer records on it. “X” and his friends will take it from there, fencing the data to illicit techies who can decipher the data and sell it to the organized identity theft market.

While it’s an interesting mental exercise to apply entrepreneurial creativity to criminal enterprises, I’m not worried about giving the bad guys ideas. They’ll think of it themselves, just as they have with everything from movies to the constituent chemicals for methamphetamines.

Now it’s time for the good guys to start thinking – or, more specifically, those who want to “do well by doing good.”

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