Cybersecurity in healthcare is becoming increasingly more important, with the industry being one of the most vulnerable to attacks. While digital transformation has truly accelerated innovation in healthcare- from online appointment systems to patient record CRMs- but with it comes the evolution of cyber threats as well.
As hospitals, clinics, and medical institutions are constantly being fed personal data, it is not entirely surprising that hackers find the healthcare industry a prime mark for frauds and breaches.
Top 4 Cyberthreats in the Healthcare Industry
The first step to any defense strategy is knowing what you’re dealing with. Listed below are the four major threats that cybersecurity in healthcare should be prepared to take on:
Phishing is one of the most common cybersecurity threats in healthcare and almost all industries, including financial. It is a fraudulent act performed by cybercriminals in which they send emails or SMS posing as legitimate institutions or reputable companies with the goal of obtaining sensitive or personal information. In the healthcare spectrum, these messages usually contain clickbait articles about medical research or new discoveries that will encourage a reader to click on a malicious link unknowingly.
Ransomware is a type of malware injected by hackers into a network to encrypt data until a ransom has been paid. More often than not, multinational companies and big corporations are the targets for this type of cyberattack, but with hospitals being home to sensitive patient information, the industry is very much vulnerable to ransomware as hackers hold data hostage. In fact, in 2020 alone, 1 in 3 healthcare organizations became victims of a ransomware attack.
According to a study done by The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Journal (HIPPA Journal), between 2009 and 2021, data breaches in the health sector reached over 4000. These breaches resulted in the theft, loss, or exposure of more than 300,000 records. Despite technological advancements, policies, and strict requirements designed to protect sensitive information such as credit card numbers and medical history, many healthcare organizations still fall prey to data breaches. But how does this type of attack happen in this sector? There are various ways a data breach can occur in the medical sector- from open and unsecured systems to the loss or theft of devices.
Distributed-Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack is a form of cybercrime in which an attacker targets a server or network of internet-connected machines. There are three types of DDoS attacks: Application which aims to exhaust a website or app’s resources like memory; Protocol which is designed to use up processing capacities like servers and firewalls; and Volumetric which renders a website unreachable due to overwhelming malicious bandwidth.
Top 5 Strategies to Improve Cybersecurity in Healthcare
Cybersecurity Personnel Training
One big mistake corporations make, including the healthcare sector, is only expecting their IT security team to be mainly involved in protecting digital assets. Have your team conduct training to give employees a clear and concise idea of what they can do to help keep data secure. From password reuse policies to basic access controls, getting everybody on the same page regarding the importance of cybersecurity in healthcare might be the best first line of defense you can set in place.
Controlled System Access
The healthcare organizational structure can be robust, meaning system access controls can be complex and vulnerable. The goal of executing controlled system access is to understand the role of each user in the company and identify the type of system privilege you need to grant them in order for them to do their jobs. Proper offboarding is also necessary- accesses should be changed or revoked every time an employee moves to a different position or leaves the company.
Data Usage and Backup
With the medical sector having multiple networks and digital systems in place, implementing cybersecurity in healthcare can be complex and challenging. There are also a lot of additional factors to consider in terms of data usage and protection, such as patient privacy, HIPAA, and GDPR regulations. A strong cybersecurity strategy involves having data backups set, implementing access level rights, and using encryption algorithm systems, all designed to prevent data theft or breaches.
Computers, tablets, phones, and all other devices connected to the network or remotely should also be monitored and managed regularly. Implement multi-factor authentication, set a dedicated network for personnel, and schedule software updates and safety applications. You can also invest in AI-powered advanced EDR security software designed to help your IT team analyze potential attacks on all endpoints such as computers, laptops, and mobile phones.
A vulnerability assessment is a cybersecurity measure done to get a systematic review of potential weaknesses that can be a way in for malicious attackers and hackers. In addition to vulnerability scans, it is also recommended to do network penetration testing. Conducting both means doing internal checks through vulnerability and website scans while executing external strategies to simulate common cyber attacks.
Cybersecurity in healthcare can be overwhelming, especially if you have no idea where to begin. Let our security experts here at SecureBrain help you out. We have a website scanner, EDR software, and a vulnerability assessment tool that can build your organization a stronger, less penetrable security system.