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Top Cybersecurity Challenges in Healthcare

As an industry, healthcare is an appealing target for cybercriminals. Healthcare organizations are particularly targeted by, and vulnerable to, cyberattacks because they possess enormous amounts of information that hold high monetary and intelligence worth for thieves. This includes patient-protected health information (PHI) like prescriptions and test results and personal identifying information (PII) such as social security numbers as well as credit card and bank account data. Below we explore some of the top cybersecurity challenges in the healthcare industry and how organizations can correct a lack of cyber awareness to make sure it is not negatively impacting your security.

Malware and Ransomware in Healthcare

Ransomware is a type of malware that infects devices, files and systems and takes the information hostage through encryption. Hackers typically demand payment for decryption and return of access. Most common ransomware attacks begin with a phishing email or ads with hidden malware that users will click on, infecting their device and anything connected to it. In recent research, 61% of healthcare organizations that reported ransomware attacks had their data encrypted during the attack.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) in Healthcare

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are often used by hackers alongside ransomware. This type of attack floods a website or network with bot traffic to disrupt performance and bring down servers. DDoS attacks are harmful to healthcare organizations and providers who need access to networks to retrieve information, access records and more to provide proper patient care.

Data Breaches in Healthcare

In 2022, the average cost of a data breach in the healthcare sector is more than $10 million. While data breaches can be caused by many different types of incidents (such as an individual accidentally or purposefully disclosing data, lost laptops/devices, credential-stealing software), one of the biggest causes is poor asset management. Because healthcare organizations must comply with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), there needs to be proper application and network security to prevent system vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities can be avoided by staying up to date on software and hardware.

Phishing in Healthcare

Phishing attacks, or an attempt to trick users into revealing personally identifiable information or passwords, is a cyberattack most used over email. It is often a hacker posing as an email or management platform used by a healthcare organization, indicating that an individual’s password/information is no longer valid. If an employee does not recognize it as a phishing email, their “click to reset password” action will not only give a hacker the information they need but inadvertently cause a healthcare organization to violate HIPAA compliance by putting information at risk.

How is a Lack of Cyber Awareness Impacting Your Healthcare Organization?

Knowledge of cybersecurity challenges in healthcare can help your employees avoid cyberattacks. Start with ongoing cybersecurity training for team members to emphasize that everyone is responsible for protecting valuable patient data. Mobile devices, tablets and other IoT gadgets must be encrypted, routinely updated and include two-factor authentication. Ensure your teams create strong user IDs and passwords that are not shared or readily available for any employee in your organization. Your teams should only be granting access to protected information to those employees who need it. By confirming access needs in person or over the phone, rather than relying on email, there is less risk of information falling into the hands of hackers.

Security as a service (SaaS) through an in-house IT department or outsourced to a managed service provider can also monitor activity 24/7 in case a breach or suspicious activity occurs.

Information technology in healthcare is vital for organizations that need to be focused on providing the best care. Computer Solutions offers healthcare organizations the ability to improve the health of their IT infrastructures, security and more. Learn more about how Computer Solutions can help by contacting us today.