April 15, 2024

Security Pix Your World

Redefining Vigilance

Have Kate Middleton’s Health Records Been Hacked?

3 min read

As the whole “Kategate” media circus continues to roll into town, there’s a new question that needs to be answered: have Kate Middleton’s health records been hacked?

What Is Known About Claims Concerning Access To The Princess Of Wales’ Health Records?

An investigation has been launched into claims that health records relating to the Princess of Wales’ January stay in The London Clinic may have been improperly accessed, according to The Mirror newspaper. The investigation centers around “claims staff attempted to access her private medical records” in what would be a significant breach of security protocols.

The U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office has confirmed that it has “received a breach report” and is “assessing the information provided.” If the breach is found to have occurred, then the staff member or members responsible could find themselves in trouble, as it is a criminal offense to access patient records without the consent of the hospital data controller concerned.

Although The London Clinic has not commented directly on the claims, it confirmed that all patients “deserve total privacy and confidentiality regarding their medical information,” and an “inside source” told The Mirror that “the hospital informed the Palace of the alleged breach as soon as it was discovered.” So, for now at least, this looks like a member of the staff may have accessed the records without permission and for nefarious reasons, rather than someone hacking into the network from the outside.

A Stark Reminder About Cybersecurity In Healthcare

“A situation such as this, where personal medical records at a prestigious hospital – especially those of high-profile figures – are reportedly targeted for unauthorised access, underscores a stark reminder about the paramount importance of cybersecurity hygiene and ethics in all aspects of healthcare,” said Javvad Malik, lead security awareness advocate at KnowBe4.

“At its core, this incident is a glaring testament to the pressing need for rigorous cybersecurity measures and ongoing staff training to mitigate insider threats, which often pose as significant a risk as external attackers,” Malik added. “Healthcare institutions must not only invest in advanced security technologies but also foster a strong and positive culture of security, privacy and confidentiality that aligns with the ethics of their profession. At the end of the day, protecting patient data isn’t just a legal obligation; it’s a moral one. Ensuring that everyone in the healthcare ecosystem — from the frontline medical staff to the IT professionals — understands the weight of this responsibility is crucial. While the well-being of individuals is the priority, securing their personal information should be seen as a fundamental extension of patient care.”

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“Although the reported breach relates to only one individual, the magnitude and accelerated proliferation of potentially harmful, and perhaps even defamatory, global conjecture associated with unlawful disclosure of sensitive personal data compounds the seriousness of the reported breach,” said Joe Jones, director of research and insights for the International Association of Privacy Professionals. “The seriousness with which the ICO approaches this breach will be a salutary and important reminder that employees with access to other people’s personal data do not equate to those employees having the necessary permissions and legal right to access and share that data.”

“Any investigation by the ICO is likely to consider whether a criminal offense might have been committed by an individual or individuals,” said Jon Baines, a senior data protection specialist at Mishcon de Reya. “Section 170 of the (UK) Data Protection Act 2018 says that a person commits an offense if they obtain or disclose personal data ‘without the consent of the controller.’ Here, the controller will be the clinic itself. The ICO themselves have the power to bring prosecutions.”

Baines added that there are defenses available to someone so charged, such as reasonably believing they had the right to obtain the personal data or even on the grounds of public interest. However, “such defenses are unlikely to apply where someone knowingly accesses patient notes for no valid or justifiable reason.”

This is a breaking story and will be updated if further information comes to light.


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