Global Medical data leak exposes information of 120 million Indian patients; Maharashtra worst affected

Global Medical data leak exposes information of 120 million Indian patients; Maharashtra worst affected

A report published in October last year by German cybersecurity firm, Greenbone Sustainable Resilience, detailed how millions of global patients’ information such as CT Scan, MRIs, and X-Ray results were leaked including photos of the patients. The firm published a follow-up report in November, which put India 2nd in the “ugly” category behind the United States.

It is said that the overall data troves that were leaked increased significantly around 60 days after the first leak was reported. Total data troves with patient information went up from 6,27,000 to 1.01 million, while photos containing patients’ details increased from 105 million to 121 million, revealing how badly this global medical data leak has affected the country. 

“The leak is worrying because the affected patients can include anyone from the common working man to politicians and celebrities. In image-driven fields like politics or entertainment, knowledge about certain ailments faced by people from these fields could deal a huge blow to their image. The other concern is of fake identities being created using the details, which can be misused in any possible number of ways,” a cybersecurity officer in Maharashtra said.

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Maharashtra is revealed to be on top of the list among Indian states, with Karnataka taking the second place. It is said that a total of 3,08,451 data troves are currently available in Maharashtra giving access to 6,97,89,685 images related to a patient. 

The report from Greenbone also adds that one of the primary reasons for the leak is the Picture Archiving and Communications Systems or PACS server which has no modern security protocols, leaving data out in the open for anyone to access. Further, these servers are connected to the internet without any protections or safeguards, which in turn makes it quite easy to access for practically anyone. 

“The fact that PACS servers are vulnerable to attack or are accessible is not new information, and there have been a number of reports on this topic in the past. No report, however, has dealt with the breadth and depth of the problem associated with unsecured PACS servers,” the report added.

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