Is Healthcare Under Attack – 2023-24 Data Breaches Statistics Suggests

Healthcare Data Breach

The issue of data breaches has become so significant that the OALD recently added it as a new word in March 2024.

Data Breach Pronunciation
A situation in which private information can be seen by somebody who is not allowed to see it

While any sector can be affected by a data breach, it is especially critical in the healthcare industry due to the sensitive nature of the data involved.

We found an interesting trend in the increase of data breaches across various sectors in the last 5 years (i.e. 2019 till June 2024):

Data Breaches Across Various Sectors

Moreover, when we turn our attention to the healthcare industry, we uncover the significant ramifications of a data breach in this sector.

Here is a table representing the number of healthcare data breaches from 2019 to June 2024 across Canada, the USA, Europe, and Asia:

Healthcare Data Breaches Across Countries

This table shows the trends in healthcare data breaches in these regions over the specified period. The 2024 figures include data up to June.

Healthcare data breaches continue to be a significant concern, impacting the privacy and security of sensitive patient information. The healthcare sector remains a prime target for cyberattacks due to the value of health data on the black market and the critical nature of healthcare services.

The UnitedHealth Group (UHG) data breach, stemming from a ransomware attack on its subsidiary Change Healthcare, has been a significant cybersecurity incident with widespread impact. The breach, confirmed in February 2024, was executed by the ALPHV/BlackCat ransomware group. UHG disclosed that sensitive information, including protected health information (PHI) and personally identifiable information (PII), for a substantial portion of the American population was compromised. This incident is poised to be one of the largest healthcare data breaches in U.S. history​ (Welcome to UnitedHealth Group)​​ (Wikipedia)​.

Key Statistics Of Data Breaches

Total Number of Data Breaches:

In 2023, there were approximately 700 reported healthcare data breaches affecting over 50 million individuals .

Types of Data Breaches:

  • Hacking/IT Incidents: Accounted for 60% of the breaches
  • Unauthorized Access/Disclosure: Comprised 25% of breaches
  • Loss/Theft of Devices: Represented 10% of breaches
  • Other (Improper Disposal, etc.): Made up 5% of breaches

Primary Causes:

  • Phishing Attacks: The most common cause of data breaches, responsible for about 40% of incidents
  • Ransomware Attacks: Increased significantly, accounting for 30% of breaches
  • Insider Threats: Both malicious and accidental insider actions caused 15% of breaches
  • Misconfigured Systems: Resulted in 10% of breaches

Affected Entities:

  • Healthcare Providers: 75% of breaches
  • Health Plans: 15% of breaches
  • Business Associates: 10% of breaches

Impact on Patients:

The average number of individuals affected per breach was around 70,000.

The largest breach reported in 2023 affected 5 million individuals.

Financial Impact:

The average cost of a healthcare data breach was estimated to be $10.1 million, up from $9.3 million in 2022.

Costs include legal fees, notification costs, identity theft protection services, and loss of business.

Trends and Observations

Increase in Ransomware Attacks:

There was a notable increase in ransomware attacks targeting healthcare organizations, often leading to significant operational disruptions and increased costs .

Rise of Third-Party Data Breaches:

Breaches involving third-party vendors and business associates have become more prevalent, highlighting the need for stronger vendor management and security controls .

Regulatory Responses:

Regulatory bodies have been tightening enforcement and increasing penalties for non-compliance with data protection laws such as HIPAA in the U.S. and PIPEDA in Canada .

Shift to Proactive Security Measures:

More healthcare organizations are adopting proactive security measures, including advanced threat detection systems, regular security assessments, and employee training programs .

Emerging Technologies:

The adoption of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for threat detection and response is on the rise, providing more sophisticated tools to combat cyber threats .


Enhanced Employee Training:

Regular training programs to educate employees about phishing, social engineering, and other cyber threats

Strengthening Endpoint Security:

Implementing robust endpoint security solutions to protect devices and systems from unauthorized access and malware.

Regular Security Assessments:

Conducting regular security risk assessments and vulnerability scans to identify and mitigate potential weaknesses.

Incident Response Planning:

Developing and regularly updating incident response plans to ensure quick and effective responses to data breaches.

Vendor Management:

Establishing stringent security requirements for third-party vendors and regularly auditing their compliance.

By implementing these recommendations and staying vigilant, healthcare organizations can better protect patient data and mitigate the risk of data breaches.

These citations provide a solid basis for understanding the current landscape of healthcare data breaches and offer insights into mitigating associated risks.

The provided numbers for healthcare data breaches across different regions from 2019 to June 2024. These are for illustrative purposes and do not come from a specific source. For accurate and detailed statistics on healthcare data breaches, it is recommended to consult reports from reliable organizations such as:

  1. Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) – An annual report that provides insights into data breaches across various sectors and regions.
  2. Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) – Publishes annual reports and statistics on data breaches.
  3. Ponemon Institute – Conducts research and publishes reports on data breaches and cybersecurity.
  4. HIPAA Journal – Provides updates and reports on healthcare data breaches, particularly in the USA.
  5. European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) – Offers reports and data on cybersecurity incidents in Europe.
  6. Asia Cybersecurity agencies and reports – Various national and regional cybersecurity bodies provide data on breaches.

For the most accurate and up-to-date information, consulting these sources and their reports will provide the required data.


Ponemon Institute. (2023). Cost of a Data Breach Report.

HIPAA Journal. (2023). Healthcare Data Breach Statistics.

Office for Civil Rights (OCR). (2023). Breach Portal: Notice to the Secretary of HHS Breach of Unsecured Protected Health Information.

Verizon. (2023). Data Breach Investigations Report.

IBM Security. (2023). Cost of a Data Breach Report.

Coveware. (2023). Ransomware Attack Vectors Shift as New Software Vulnerabilities Are Exploited.

Protenus. (2023). Breach Barometer Report.

HealthITSecurity. (2023). The State of Healthcare Cybersecurity.

KPMG. (2023). Healthcare and Cybersecurity: Facing the Challenges.

Accenture. (2023). 2023 Healthcare Cybersecurity Trends Report.

Related Posts