TechCrunch: Every day, millions of new medical images containing the personal health information of patients are spilling out onto the internet. Hundreds of hospitals, medical offices and imaging centers are running insecure storage systems, allowing anyone with an internet connection and free-to-download software to access over 1 billion medical images of patients across the world. About half of all the exposed images, which include X-rays, ultrasounds and CT scans, belong to patients in the United States. Yet despite warnings from security researchers who have spent weeks alerting hospitals and doctors’ offices to the problem, many have ignored their warnings and continue to expose their patients’ private health information.
The problem is well-documented. Greenbone found 24 million patient exams storing more than 720 million medical images in September, which first unearthed the scale of the problem as reported by ProPublica. Two months later, 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. But the problem shows little sign of abating. “The amount of data exposed is still rising, even considering the amount of data taken offline due to our disclosures,” said Schrader. If doctors fail to take action, he said the number of exposed medical images will hit a new high “in no time.”