It's no secret: Hackers are definitely after your personal information.
But not all info is created equal. You might think hackers are drooling over your credit card number. After all, with your payment info, they can buy anything online and resell it for cold, hard cash. Or what about your bank account data? Hackers could clean you out, in theory.
Don't get me wrong, hackers will take those things if they can get them. But there's one thing above all that they're after: your digital medical records.
Medical information is worth 10 times as much as your payment card info on the black market. Hackers are now frequently targeting hospitals, clinics, insurance companies and healthcare providers in high-profile cyberattacks. Very recently, we learned that Chinese hackers used the Heartbleed bug to steal 4.5 million records from a nationwide hospital operator.
Imagine some hackers want to clean out your savings account. They would have to steal a fair amount of personal information from you. Then they would have to breach your bank's security measures, which are generally very strong. All that to get at one person's savings account. The average American family's savings account balance is $3,800.
Let's compare that to a hospital hack. Many hospitals and insurance companies are using older, outdated cybersecurity systems. They're easier to break into and once you're in, you can hijack thousands - even millions - of medical records. But what's the value of a person's medical records?
While you might have a few thousand dollars in your account, the healthcare industry in America is worth more than $3 trillion. That's an obscene amount of money. Using your medical records, hackers can forge fake identities to make phony insurance claims. These claims are numerous and buried in bureaucracy. It's often years before the crime has been discovered, and by then the hacker is long gone.
Each stolen health credential can sell for as much as $10 on the black market, compared to the one or two dollars your credit card number will fetch. So what can you do to protect your personal medical records? Click here to learn the five things you need to know before your next doctor's appointment.