At the peak of cyber threats, when many industries and government sectors are falling victim to malicious cyberattacks, the healthcare industry is no more in the safe zone. Cyberattacks in healthcare are considered a major concern, due to their immense potential to threaten patients’ health and safety, along with their crucial medical information. The rapid emergence of cutting-edge technologies and implementation of automation, interoperability, and data analytics has left the healthcare industry vulnerable to cyberattacks. Recent reports have also shown that the global pandemic has seen cyber attacks increasing at hospitals and healthcare institutions at alarming rates.
Why healthcare is an attractive target for cybercriminals to conduct attacks:
- Criminals can sell patients their medical and billing information through the darknet to fraud insurance.
- Ransomware’s ability to freeze patient care and various back-office systems to get lucrative ransom payments.
- Internet-driven medical devices are susceptible to attacks.
How Cyberattacks Threaten More Than Just Privacy
Cybercriminals mostly conduct attacks on electronic health records (EHR) and other systems to steal patients’ data, and thus jeopardize patients’ privacy by gaining access to PHI and other sensitive information.
While stealing patients’ information, these types of attacks could further alter crucial data—leading to serious effects on patients’ overall health and outcomes, thus, also hampering patient safety and care delivery.
Failing to keep patients’ privacy intact, healthcare organizations can be charged high penalties, as per HIPAA’s Privacy and Security Rules. This type of record can harm the organizational reputation within the community.
Why Cybersecurity in Healthcare Is Such a Challenge
Since this industry primarily deals with patients’ and employees’ financial and medical information, safeguarding these private data from attack start from securing their networks, databases, and endpoints. Additionally, with the boom of connected medical devices, potential cybersecurity risks have increased further. It has been easier for cybercriminals to conduct attacks on every conceivable piece of medical equipment, as they are now web-enabled or connected to the organization’s operational network.
Top cybersecurity challenges faced by healthcare:
- Patients’ medical information being highly valuable on the darknet
- Absence of security measures in most medical devices
- Lack of knowledge among medical professionals to remotely access medical data
- Insufficient knowledge and training in cyber risk among healthcare workers
- Age-old technologies in several healthcare facilities
What the Healthcare Industry Can Do Towards Ensuring Cybersecurity
As cybercrime increases, it is becoming quite evident that many businesses are losing ground in their battle against it. Healthcare is one of them. Antiquated computing systems, along with a handful of trained cybersecurity professionals are not nearly good enough, when it comes to protecting sensitive patients’ data and ensuring their safety.
Arguably, the security of sensitive healthcare data should be held in the same esteem as that of financial data, if not more. Hence, when it comes to cybersecurity in healthcare, the solutions must surpass the levels of protection provided by established solutions in most industries.
The healthcare industry must proceed with its digital transformation rather judiciously, closely scrutinizing each new platform’s vulnerability to cyberattacks.
Cybersecurity risks must be seen as a risk-management issue, with at least one dedicated person overseeing the implementation, maintenance, and updates to the cybersecurity measures taken in the organization.
Lastly, healthcare organizations must ensure an organization-wide culture of cybersecurity, one that helps all employees and other parties involved to play proactive roles in ensuring the privacy and security of patient data, in their everyday work.
At the end of the day, cybercrime is an enemy that may be kept at bay by continuing to take smart and effective measures but never be fully eradicated. As cybercriminals keep finding newer ways to target sensitive patient data, the Healthcare industry must constantly be ahead of the curve in order to come out on top. Industry leaders must strive to keep themselves informed of the latest developments in cybersecurity and be prepared for the worst types of attacks.
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