The Security Scrutinizer with Howard Anderson

Do You Trust Your Janitor?

Even Cleaning Crew Can Lead to Breaches
Do You Trust Your Janitor?

Janitors can be a security risk. That point was hammered home yet again with a report that a janitor at a Southern California clinic has been charged with felony commercial burglary for allegedly selling 14 boxes of patient records to a recycling center for $40.

The janitor was arrested in connection with the removal of boxes of records from Martin Luther King Jr. Multi-Service Ambulatory Care Center in Willowbrook, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

Law enforcement officials told the Times that the janitor was merely interested in getting money for the paper, rather than committing identity theft.

The incident, however, points to the potential security risks involved with cleaning crews. And it's not the first time a janitor has been involved in a breach.

In an earlier case, an identity theft ring relied on a janitor to steal personal information from patient files at a Chicago hospital. As many as 250 patients were possible victims of identity theft at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in the year-long identity scam, law enforcement authorities said.

Using the stolen information, the thieves obtained access to credit and charged more than $300,000 in more than 500 transactions to purchase jewelry, furniture, household goods, appliances and electronics. They then sold the items to friends and relatives for a cash profit.

So how well do you know your cleaning crew? And does the company for which they work have a good track record? Maybe now's a good time to check. And make sure the janitors know there will be harsh consequences if they mishandle patient information.

Meanwhile, be careful about what documents you leave on desks or in garbage cans, recycling bins, boxes or unlocked cabinets. After all, you don't want your organization to show up on the federal government's list of major healthcare breaches.

About the Author

Howard Anderson

Howard Anderson

Former News Editor, ISMG

Anderson was news editor of Information Security Media Group and founding editor of HealthcareInfoSecurity and DataBreachToday. He has more than 40 years of journalism experience, with a focus on healthcare information technology issues. Before launching HealthcareInfoSecurity, he served as founding editor of Health Data Management magazine, where he worked for 17 years, and he served in leadership roles at several other healthcare magazines and newspapers.

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