Monday, August 25, 2014

Medical Insecurity Worse for Identity Theft

Illegally purchased medical records fetch huge sums of money on black markets
 about $50 an account. Credit cards, on the other hand fetch only $1 each.

. . Criminals can use medical records to fraudulently bill insurance or Medicare, use patients' identities for free consultations, or pose as patients to obtain prescription medications that can later be sold on the street.
. . As medical offices are pushed by the Affordable Care Act to turn paper patient records into digital files they typically don't take the extra step to protect those files -- making them easier than ever for a hacker to quietly steal en masse.  They rarely encrypt all of the data they keep on us.  Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act doesn't demand it. Furthermore, many are using outdated technology that no longer receives security updates. For example, Community Health Systems allowed hackers access to employees' login credentials because it was slow to patch the infamous Heartbleed bug.

. . For more read, 90% of hospitals and clinics lose their patients' data at 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

No Helmet Promotes Idiocy

. . For anyone who seriously rides a bike knows helmets safe lives.  It has probably saved them from serious injury on more than one instance.  It is beyond fathomable that some people would argue against the use of helmets, yet these people persists.  For example, consider Pete McMartin: Forget bike helmets: Take the lid off: Bike lanes do more to improve safety Apparently, he has already hit his head too oftenHere are the facts as provided by Statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
. . Less than two percent of motor vehicle crash deaths are bicyclists. The most serious injuries among a majority of those killed are to the head, highlighting the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet. Eighty-nine percent of bicycle deaths are persons 16 and older, so helmet laws should include adults. Helmet use has been estimated to reduce head injury risk. Ninety-one percent of bicyclists killed in 2009 reportedly weren't wearing helmets. The percentage not in helmets in 2010 seems to be lower, until you look at the "Unknown" column and find that it jumped in that year. The table below is from IIHS data.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Security by Obscurity

Those who criticize the White House for refusing to share security procedures only demonstrate their ignorance of the difficulty to achieve reasonable levels of security for such a widely accessed system as the information services for the Affordable Care program.  Since most often the greatest leaks are internal (think Snowden), the best policy until appropriate security audits can be performed is to limit who is permitted to know what.
Government cyber-security experts were worried that state computers linking to a federal system that verifies the personal information of insurance applicants were vulnerable to attack. About a week before the launch of, a federal review found significant differences in states' readiness.
For more read White House won't reveal documents related to ObamaCare website security

Monday, August 18, 2014

Medical Insecurity

. . No sooner had we warned of a major security vulnerability, then it happened.  Chinese hackers stole info on 4.5 million U.S. hospital patients.|mod&par=xfinity 
. . Very likely this is just the beginning.

Medical Records Security

. . One of the advantages of that doctors office with rows upon rows of patient records is they are relatively secure.  Because of the vary nature of paper records, they are hard to steal by anyone, but an insider.  However, with emphasis of the Affordable Care Act to digitize and share records all of that security is about to be lost.
. . In a recent visit to a doctor's office I watch him and his staff really struggle to digitize their records. A typical 15-minute office visit was now taking up to 30 minutes as they diligently transferred paper notes into some computer data base.  At the end of the visit, the receptionist offered me (and possibly a lot of other people) the opportunity to view my records online.
. . Most medical offices are computer-illiterate and consequently even worse data security illiterate.  Besides your medical records, they are likely to have personal records, such as your social security numbers, birth information, listing of family members, copies of driver's licenses and insurance cards, etc.  All of this stuff they are diligently and unwittingly making available to the cybercriminals.
. . Most people may feel the false sense of security that HIPAA protects the disclosure of personal records.  That is only protect against intentional disclosure, but how many medical and hospital offices conduct security audits?  Hacks of Target, Bank of America, AOL, etc have made the news.  Time to get ready for the big data thefts -- doctors' and hospital data bases.
. . For more about this problem start here, Yes, medical device security is lousy - so what?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Privacy Once Lost

. . Privacy is the most fragile possession in our lives.  Once lost, it can never be regained.  However, many people hardly realize its value.  They "life-log" their daily experiences, their thoughts, opinions, likes and dislikes, and key identification records, such as birth dates, birth locations, family, schools for the world to see and maybe abuse.
. . In the digital age nothing is forgotten: thoughts and opinions you shared in your youth with your "friends", all thousand or more of your "closest" buddies, who may have re-posted to their thousands of friends and so on.
. . Often most people find some of that early exposure very embarrassing later in life.  Before Facebook and Twitter we had the benefit of limited memory.  Now nothing is forgotten and often re-emerges to one's dismay.
. . Psychoanalyst Josh Cohen author of The Private Life , an intelligent and highly literary exploration of the changing nature of privacy in the age of Facebook says,
We need private lives because it ensures we're never fully known to others or to ourselves, provides a shelter for imaginative freedom, curiosity and self-reflection. So to defend the private self is to defend the very possibility of creative and meaningful life.
 Alex Preston in his article, The Death of Privacy, explorers psychological and cultural fallout from the end of privacy.
Google knows what you're looking for. Facebook knows what you like. Sharing is the norm, and secrecy is out. We have come to the end of privacy; our private lives, as our grandparents would have recognized them, have been winnowed away to the realm of the shameful and secret. Insidiously, through small concessions that only mounted up over time, we have signed away rights and privileges that other generations fought for, undermining the very cornerstones of our personalities. We have come to accept that the majority of our social, financial and even sexual interactions take place over the internet and that someone, somewhere, whether state, press or corporation, is watching: WikiLeaks, the phone-hacking scandal, the Snowden files, Facebook's "emotional contagion" experiment of 700,000 of its members. 
Facebook news feed is "like a sausage… Everyone eats it, even though nobody knows how it is made".

Inconvenient CO2 Fact

. . IPCC published reports acknowledge that the effective temperature increase caused by growing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere radically diminishes with increasing concentrations. This information has been presented in the IPCC reports. It is well disguised for any lay reader. It is a crucial fact not acknowledged in the IPCC summary for Policy Makers.
. . The rapid logarithmic diminution effect is an inconvenient fact for Global Warming advocates and alarmists, nonetheless it is well understood within the climate science community.
It is likely that any current global warming, if continuing and increased CO2 is:
§ largely a natural process
§ within normal limits
§ probably beneficial up to about a further 2.0°C+.
It could be not be influenced by any remedial decarbonisation action, however drastic, taken by a minority of nations.

10% of Brain Myth

. . The myth that we use only 10% of our brain is popular with Hollywood, such as in the recent movie Lucy, with psychics attempt to scam the naive, and UFOlogists trying to promote ET communication.  For some people the 10% myth may be true, but for most of us we use all that we have been fortunate to have.
. . Google "10% of brain capacity" to find all kinds of repudiation.  However, a good starting point is with Snopes at

Friday, August 1, 2014

Verizon Scam

. . I have become very leery of any “gift” Verizon or Comcast wants to share with me.  I just read a long report from the FTC about action the gov brought against the telcos for “cramming”.  If you aren’t aware of what that is, it is where companies like VerizonWireless add “fees” to your bill for services some other third party says you owe.  Generally, the fees are small (around $10); not detailed, such reported as “Other Services”; and, most people just pay them without a second thought.  The telcos get a 30% to 40% kick-back on this billing and have earned billions.
. . A couple of days ago, I received an email solicitation from VerizonWireless for their “Rewards” program.  We have a Rewards program on our credit card and it works well.  However, because of my distrust of anything telephone company, I decided to check this one out.

Verizon Smart Rewards, and Dumb Rewards Programs You Should Skip