Half of all data breaches reported to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in the final quarter of 2015 came from the healthcare sector, according to a new report.
This means that this industry experiences the most data infractions - with 184 separate breaches recorded in the final three months of last year.
The report from the ICO, which is responsible for data governance in the UK, also reveals that the second biggest offending sector was local government. However, it's 43 breaches pales in comparison to the number logged for healthcare.
According to the organisation, this development is of particular concern as the industry handles very sensitive data and breaches could potentially lead to “extensive detriment and high levels of distress" to those affected.
Speaking to SC Magazine UK, Chris Gibson, director of CERT-UK, said that the healthcare sector had a fragmented and convoluted governance structure, making it difficult to monitor.
"This area can be a confusing morass of various levels of authorities, public and private bodies and, of course, patients, making it hard to implement across-the-board policies and training schemes which might educate employees in protecting data," he added.
However, Mr Gibson explained that the problem has not gone unnoticed and the healthcare sector is trying to fix the leak. They are facing immense challenges, particularly because the data that can be extracted is perceived to be particularly lucrative on the criminal underground.
A hacker can earn around £1 for stolen credit card information, but a single medical record can be worth as much as £30, meaning the incentive is high for cyber criminals. Hospital data can also be targeted by those who simply want to cause chaos or create fear, as breaches can make people reluctant to use such services.
The report from the ICO wasn't all bad news, as it actually revealed that breaches in the healthcare sector have reduced by ten per cent compared to the previous quarter - as 204 incidents were recorded in Q3, compared with 184 in the last three months of the year.