The Burnett Practice

Breach details

What Names and email addresses.
How much About 175 records.
When 3 October 2012 or earlier
Why The email service provider that the practice used wasn’t suitable to send sensitive medical results because it didn’t provide the appropriate technical security measures. As a result the practice’s email account was hacked.

BW Comments

Organisations should view this as an indication that if cloud-based, web-email services are used, services that offer two-factor authentication (e.g. Google Authenticator) should be selected.

Regulatory action

Regulator ICO
Action Undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle
When 26 April 2013
Details The practice must use secure means of communication for test results – email can only be used if its security can be guaranteed. A security policy that is adequate to transfer patient data securely must be put in place, and staff must be made aware of this and trained.

BW Observations

Based on previous decisions, the loss of 175 medical records would seem to be a candidate for a Monetary Penalty rather than an undertaking. However, in this case the Commissioner would have struggled to satisfy the ‘known or should have known’ test given that most people (incorrectly) assume their email is generally safe from third party attack.