The healthcare industry focuses on providing the best service to each patient leveraging the latest technology. Hospitals use the latest technologies to improve patient care and treatment. However, as they constantly commit themselves to the services, they get no time or opportunities to educate themselves about cyber threats
This makes room for healthcare cyber-attacks to happen quickly. In addition, cyber threat actors and criminals are looking to exploit these vulnerabilities. Apart from breach of privacy and financial loss, healthcare cyber-attacks may put lives at risk due to patient data loss. Thus, due to the nature of the functionalities in the sector, cybersecurity in healthcare is at stake, making room for more necessary measures before it gets critical.
By the end of 2020, cyber-attacks in healthcare had increased by 45 percent, which is twice the size occurring in the other sectors. This is due to implementing the latest technologies to overcome the hurdles brought by the pandemic in the healthcare industry.
Reasons Why Attackers Target Hospitals
There are many reasons why cybercriminals target hospitals. Some of them can be:
Selling patient data gets the attackers a lot of money
Attackers can quickly enter into medical devices
Staff in hospitals are not well educated on cyber threats
Vulnerabilities increase as the number of devices used in hospitals are high
Most of the hospitals have outdated technologies that increase the vulnerabilities
Healthcare Cyberattacks across the U.S.
The total number of healthcare breaches in 2019 in the U.S. was 386, and in 2020, it was 599 resulting in an increase of 55.1%. However, breaches due to hacking and IT incidents stood at 67.3%.Healthcare cyber-attacks were the main reason for the theft of the personal information of patients. In 2020 alone, around 26 million patient records reached unauthorized hands. Out of this, 24.1 million incidents were due to healthcare cyber-attacks.
Ways to Getting Rid of Healthcare Cyber-attacks in 2022
We have learned how the healthcare sector is more prone to cyber-attacks and why criminals target hospitals more than other sectors. Understanding this, you have to take immediate and necessary actions to mitigate the cyber threats
Outlined are the following actions and measures to reduce healthcare cyber-attacks.
Solid Healthcare Cybersecurity Policy
In the healthcare sector, all hospitals should have a solid cybersecurity policy. Healthcare data can be compromised anytime and anywhere. A solid healthcare cybersecurity policy with effective measures is worth a ton for healthcare organizations. Moreover, it can easily prevent healthcare cyber-attacks largely.
Your healthcare cybersecurity policy can include the measures such as a policy regarding password, two-factor authentication, testing, detection program, third party policy, cybersecurity awareness programs
for employees, and much more.
Automation and Monitoring
Even in small hospitals, there are countless devices and endpoints. This makes it hard for employees to maintain the security level adequately. Thus, professionals suggest automation and monitoring tools with the latest technologies, including IoT, AI, and machine learning. These specialized tools will help the security teams detect the healthcare cybersecurity threat
early and mitigate it quickly. Furthermore, potential security breaches can be isolated through this constant monitoring with the help of automation and monitoring tools.
"Cyber teams should be in a constant state of monitoring and proactively looking for issues within their network and systems and be quick to respond. System updates and patching are always critical and all cybersecurity programs should include a very detailed and robust security awareness program as nearly all cyberattacks are initially carried out through a single user's action,"
Dave Summittt, CISO of Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla
Leverage Industry Best Cybersecurity Practices
In recent times, the healthcare industry has felt the blow for data theft and security breaches. This alarming fact points towards the need to strengthen cybersecurity in a healthcare organization. As part of strengthening cybersecurity and reducing healthcare cyber-attacks, the healthcare organization should leverage the industry's best cybersecurity practices.
The best cybersecurity practices advised by cyber security professionals are setting up a firewall, backing up data regularly, controlling electronic health information processes, following good computer habits, controlling network access, installing system anti-virus, and having a well-documented bring your device (BYOD). Practicing these aspects will make your organization free from many possible healthcare cyber-attacks.
One of the main reasons for the increased number of healthcare cyber-attacks is that the staff is unaware of cyber threats. Therefore, it is high time for hospitals to educate their staff on cyber threats to get themselves away from risks.
All the staff must have a basic understanding of proper cybersecurity protocols. Hospitals should conduct phishing awareness training at work and teach their staff how to respond to dubious activities, such as suspicious e-mails, fraud, and phishing attacks. The access to hospital systems must be limited to credentialed staff members, only helping the hospital avoid unnecessary complications and breaches. The staff also should make sure the medical terminals are inactive when not in use.
Cybercriminals find more opportunities to practice their unlawful activities in the healthcare industry than in any other industry. This is because the hospital employees are not aware of the security threats when they do their daily duties. Often, they do not have enough time to look into these masters as they do their best for their patients.
New technologies used in the healthcare sector to tackle the pandemic also challenge hospitals to maintain healthcare cybersecurity. The countless number of devices used in the hospitals is another reason for it. However, effective policies with adequate measures and educating the employees regarding the potential breaches will mitigate the breaches and safeguard the hospitals by reducing healthcare cyber-attacks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do cybercriminals target more on the healthcare industry than other industries?
One of the main reasons hospitals become the targets of malicious online activities is that the industry has many sensitive data, including patient data. Unfortunately, the healthcare industry usually does not have a solid system to prevent breaches.
What are the consequences of a healthcare data breach?
Healthcare data breaches affect the lives of patients. They are likely to mistrust the system and may withhold the information. Both financial and medical identity theft can happen in a healthcare data breach.