Last week, the German health insurance company BKK had to unveil a severe information leak. The company has become blackmailed because someone had stolen masses of sensitive patient records. Besides the fact, that the way that this happened shows an astonishing carelessness when dealing with IT security and privacy at the BKK and raises many questions (see below), there are some interesting new options for the German government to work with this data.

You could for example take such patient records and combine them with the recently acquired stolen data from Switzerland about potential tax fraud. If you take for example people who recently showed insomnia or started bed-wetting, that should be fully sufficient for an initial suspicion by the attorneys. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other interesting opportunities of combining patient records with other types of information... Thus the thief probably should have approached the German government instead of the BKK. They are always willing to buy stolen things and to make use of that, like they have proven recently.

Some words about the BKK case itself: The BKK had outsourced some tasks to a call center. There hasn't been an auditing about the privacy, IT security, or data protection approaches of that outsourcer. In fact, it appears that there have been other outsourcers and freelancers involved. Besides this, there was an IT company involved which did the support for the outsourced call center. The employees of that IT company had some privileged accounts with access to massive amounts of sensitive patient records.

Overall, there has obviously been a lack of understanding of IT security and privacy issues I seldomly have seen before, at least not in the healthcare and finance industry. No valid concept for differentiated access controls, no privileged access management, no data leakage prevention, nothing. Incredible - but true.