Hackers stole the public health information — such as names, addresses, birth dates, income data and "social security numbers" of 80 million internet users of India in 2015, a report released by global security software company Trend Micro said on Tuesday. The social security numbers referred to in the report could be the unique identification or Aadhaar numbers of people.
The report said data was also stolen from the online government healthcare records.
It further said India's healthcare industry reported the highest number of data breaches in 2015. The report said 2015 brought no respite for India's health sector in terms of data breaches or leaks involving some of the top healthcare companies.
The country's healthcare sector accounted for 26 percent of all data breach cases in 2015, followed by the education (16.8 percent), government (15.9 percent ), retail (12.5 percent) and finance (9.2 percent) sectors.
"Several high-profile organisations came under fire in 2015 when breaches led to the exposure of critical data and put clients and employees at risk," an official statement by Trend Micro said.
Although incidents of this magnitude have become common, Trend Micro said there was more active use of compromised data for online extortion and cyberattacks as of last year.
The report suggested that the enforcement of stricter policies by companies and measures such as remote device wipe, disk encryption, and use of virtual infrastructure could bring down such incidences. "But for those that involve malware and hacking, breach detection and network security solutions are required," the report said.
It added that system administrators and managers need to identify solutions that allow them to monitor network traffic across all ports to spot any anomalies and prevent attackers before they can advance.
The Trend Micro Smart Protection Network blocked over 52 billion threats in 2015, a 25 percent decrease from 2014, said Trend Micro in the statement. "This decrease is consistent with the downward trend of system infections since 2012, caused by attackers who have become more selective of their targets as well as the shift in technologies they use," said the official statement.