Medicaid has been in the news a while back thanks to the GOP’s response to Obamacare, but Medicaid’s sibling Medicare was also in the news. You may have missed it, but the 14,005 people who were affected could tell you all about the Brand New Day breach.

Brand New Day is a Medicare-approved producer of health products and health plans. That means that they’re a healthcare provider who’s been examined by a state government agency to provide healthcare to people under Medicare’s coverage. Brand New Day focuses on preventative measures like education, exercise, and self-test and monitoring. In other words, people over 65 or with disabilities rely on them to have an affordable and healthy future. That’s why the breach they discovered last December is particularly disturbing.

On December 28th Brand New Day discovered a breach where private medical records were accessed. Just this week they notified 14,005 patients that their records were included in the breach. That means 14,005 people’s names, addresses, phone numbers, and even their Medicare ID numbers were accessed and could be in the hands of hackers right now. Even without a breach all it takes is for you to give your email out to a site you don’t know and you can find yourself inundated with spam emails and automated phone calls warning you that you need to consolidate your credit card debt, so you can imagine the damage someone could do with the information accessed in the breach. And that’s not even taking into account the other hacks that could occur from the breach. Just think of how many times you use your birthday as a part of a password and you’ll see why personal information is so valuable to hackers.

In this case, though, the breach could be even more damaging than if it was a regular healthcare provider. Since Medicare covers those who are above 65, it can be assumed that most of the people affected by this breach are senior citizens. Now you might think that since the common stereotype for elderly people when it comes to technology is that they’re helpless, they’ll be easy picking for hackers. The truth is more complicated than that because in reality most older people have adapted to modern computers and can use them well. However, it’s also true that a majority of the people affected by this breach are retired. Unless they have an online hobby, a retired person who only used a computer for work will quickly fall out of the loop when it comes to cybersecurity trends. That could mean they don’t hear about and install an email scanner that raises red flags over files carrying malware or don’t know the signs of a popular email scan until it shows up in their inbox. Hackers also know that older people have disposable income more often than young people or those raising children. This fact draws hackers towards the elderly and retired like moths to a flame.

Don’t believe it? According to a 2012 study by the Stanford Center on Longevity the United States Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s Investor Education Foundation, people over 65 are 35% more likely to lose money to a financial scam. Even though the people whose information was accessed in the Brand New Day breach have no choice but to deal with the consequences, you or an elderly person you know doesn’t have to find themselves in the same situation. Continued education and cybersecurity awareness can pay off in droves when you fend off a cyber scam, and that doesn’t just go for those above 65. Everyone benefits from investing in their cybersecurity knowledge, so what are you waiting for? Commit to learning more about cybersecurity today and save yourself an empty wallet and a headache tomorrow.

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