Protenus releases the 2022 Breach Barometer report on health data breaches: More than 50 million affected

Protenus, a healthcare compliance analytics company, has released its annual Breach Barometer report.  Protenus has been making its annual report on health data incidents freely available since 2016 as the result of an ongoing collaboration between the firm and compiles incidents and provides some of their statistical analyses and is compensated for its role.

Unlike others’ annual reports that generally just rehash or crunch numbers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ public breach tool, the Breach Barometer not only includes incidents involving HIPAA-covered entities, but it includes other entities that collect and store health data, including businesses and schools. The data analyses also include incidents that have not yet been disclosed by victim entities but were otherwise made public.

This year’s Breach Barometer is based on 1053 reports concerning 905 unique health data breaches, up 19% from 758 unique incidents reported in 2020. The larger number of reports than breaches reflects the fact that the Breach Barometer treats multiple victim entities from one breach as all part of one incident.  This year’s figures, while significantly higher than last year’s, are undoubtedly significantly underestimating the actual number of both reports and breaches because some data sources that we had for the 2021 report were not available in time for the 2022 report.

Of the 905 unique incidents, 700 incidents had numbers reported for the number of people or patients impacted. For those 700 incidents, there were a total of 50,406,838 people affected, compared to 40,735,428 for last year. The number affected would have been even higher with the additional data sources and if we had not cut off the compilation of reports a bit earlier this year than in past years.

As in past years, hacking incidents continued to account for the largest percentage of breaches, but insider incidents — including both human error incidents and intentional wrongdoing cases — continue to pose a serious threat to entities. Protenus and are aware that many of the incidents that get coded as “hacks” actually begin with employees falling for phishing attacks or making some other error that allows threat actors to gain initial access.

Readers will also find data on the gap between breaches and discovery of breaches, the gap between breaches and disclosure, and the gap between discovery and disclosure. There are also state frequency data in the report.

To download the full report, or for more information, please visit:

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