A proposed bill regarding data breach legislation in New York could soon be including individuals’ medical information under the definition of personal information.

If this proposed bill passes, unsecured PHI (Personal Health Information) that are held by a HIPAA covered entity would be identified as data that requires notification if compromised in a data breach.  In addition to PHI, biometric data and email addresses or usernames in combination with a password or security question answer will be included in New York’s definition of personal information.

The process by which notifying victims will also be updated. Disclosing the breach shall be done in the most expedient time possible and without unreasonable delay, and not doing so will result in a steeper fine that once before. The current penalties for failing to comply with notification requirements is limited to no more or no less than $5,000 or $10 per instance, with penalties unable to exceed $100,000 total. The new penalties will be no more or no less than $5,000 or $20, and to not exceed $250,000 total.

The proposed legislation explains:

In the event that any New York residents are to be notified, the person or business shall notify the state attorney general, the department of state and the office of information technology services as to the timing, content and distribution of the notices approximate number of affected persons and provide a copy of the template of the notice sent to affect persons. Such notice shall be made without delaying notice to affected New York resident.”

Organization’s holding PHI need to understand that health information is the most valuable information on the black market right now, and needs to be treated with the utmost care. By implementing solutions into their IT environment that’ll detect and block ransomware as well as ensuring hardening measures and user access controls are enforced, these providers can remain a few steps ahead of the bad guys. While the chances of stopping all breaches are unlikely with a prevention-based approach, with a nonstop & continuous approach you can at least spot the unusual changes that represent a breach in real-time and take action before it’s too late!


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