Why is cybersecurity in the healthcare industry so important?
In the past years, the healthcare sector has grown tremendously and became one of the most important industries due to the pandemic. At the same time, technology has made its way into this world and saved numerous lives.
However, whenever a new technology is incorporated into an industry, cyberattacks rise almost immediately. In this article, you’ll learn about healthcare cybersecurity and why it is so important.
Healthcare cybersecurity has to be a top priority for all companies participating in the healthcare industry, including those who give care, insure care, and produce medicines, biotech goods, and medical equipment. Regarding patient safety and protecting sensitive patient data, the security protocols that must be followed in the healthcare industry are comprehensive.
Information security and cybersecurity in the healthcare industry are essential for a company to operate in today's digital environment. The various types of specialized hospital information systems used by many healthcare organizations include all types of systems: electronic health record (EHR), e-prescribing, practice management support, clinical decision support, radiology information, and computerized physician order entry. The Internet of Things, which is made up of thousands of different devices, must also be safeguarded. These include intelligent HVAC systems, infusion pumps, smart elevators, and innovative heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
An industry under attack
The healthcare industry has been a clear target for cybercriminals in the past years. In 2022, there had been 860 data breaches affecting the protected health information (PHI).
The most significant breach affected 3.25 million persons and was caused by a vendor or third party known as a "Business Associate." This makes up 119 (13.8%) of all security breaches. Also, costs associated with healthcare data breaches were $9.23 million in 2021, more than double the average cost of a data breach across all businesses of $4.24 million, according to a report by IBM and the Ponemon Institute.
Cybercrime is having a significant effect on the American healthcare system. The healthcare industry in the United States is a frequent target of the 3.4 billion daily phishing emails sent by cybercriminals worldwide. 61% of healthcare industry respondents in a 2021 Sophos survey said they had paid a ransom, the highest incidence of any industry. And in only one year, the number of ransomware attacks on hospitals and other medical facilities climbed by a frightening 94%.
Another factor to take into consideration is also de pandemic. Hackers prey on overworked healthcare workers and vulnerable networks to access healthcare systems. According to some reports, malicious emails have surged by 600% since the start of the pandemic and the number of assaults targeting healthcare practitioners has been growing continuously.
Which assets do healthcare organizations use?
Healthcare firms primarily communicate through email. It is usually utilized for commercial transactions, information production, reception, transfer, and storage. Intellectual property, financial information, medical information, and other data are increasingly stored in mailboxes. Consequently, mailbox storage grows. Email protection is a critical part of healthcare cybersecurity as a result.
Phishing is a security threat because it causes most security breaches. Unwary users risk infecting their systems with malware if they open a phishing email's attachment or link. How is this done exactly? Malware may spread across a network and infect other computers and the recipient of a phishing email may provide private or proprietary information. Phishing emails are effective because they trick the recipient into completing the desired action, such as exposing sensitive or confidential information, clicking on a hazardous link, or opening an infected file. Consistent security training is vital to foiling phishing tactics.
Sometimes, a computer or other device may be compromised because an unauthorized person has physical access. A gadget might be hacked, for instance, by using physical methods. To circumvent technological safeguards, physical access to a device may be used. Protecting a device's functionality, configuration, and data necessitates taking physical precautions.
Taking work elsewhere sometimes involves leaving a laptop unattended, such as while traveling or working in a different place. Carelessness might result in the computer being stolen or lost. Another cyberattack is the evil maid attack. A victim's equipment is subtly modified to allow the cybercriminal access later, such as by installing a keylogger to capture critical information like passwords.
Legacy systems need to be updated or maintained by the developer. Application or operating system software is only one example of a legacy system. Many healthcare businesses have a large legacy system footprint, which presents cybersecurity problems. While they may have been reliable in the past, legacy systems are now abandoned by their creators, leaving them vulnerable due to a lack of security upgrades and fixes.
It may be too costly or impossible for certain businesses to replace their aging computer systems. Healthcare companies may need more funds allocated to cybersecurity to update to currently supported versions of operating systems, and operating system makers may sunset systems.
The Importance of Cybersecurity in the Healthcare Industry
Cybersecurity experts are getting more concerned about the prevalence of cyberattacks in the healthcare business and fear that the trend will continue unless providers adopt preventative measures. Internet of Things (IoT) devices depend significantly on secure networks to keep patients healthy, despite the increasing danger of cyberattacks. A healthcare provider's company and patients are in trouble if their data are stolen or compromised on the cloud. Employees at these companies are particularly susceptible to phishing attacks because of a lack of cybersecurity training. The following areas need attention to guarantee cybersecurity as healthcare organisations recover from the pandemic and other cyberattacks.
From critical care devices used by patients to linked data input tools used by healthcare professionals, Internet of Things (IoT) gadgets are ubiquitous in the healthcare industry. IoT gadgets often sync up with a cloud service, where their data is kept safe, and they continue to function. All Internet of Things devices are vulnerable if hackers penetrate any one of these clouds or networks. If these devices are breached, it might have a catastrophic effect on healthcare practitioners and their patients.
As healthcare moves to nearly exclusively virtual platforms, convenience increases, but so does the potential of being hacked. The prevalence of data breaches on healthcare providers is a source of anxiety for the patients who put their confidence in these systems. Hackers peddle this sensitive data on the dark web, and it will take years, if not decades, for victims to regain their anonymity. When caring for patients, healthcare practitioners should prioritise the safety of their patient's data. In the future, a data breach may be avoided or at least mitigated with the use of cyber cybersecurity measures.
Awareness of Cybersecurity
It's not fair to put all of the weight of managing cybersecurity on the shoulders of one individual or small group. Everyone working inside a healthcare organisation should understand the fundamentals of cybersecurity and the consequences of a breach. According to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), cybersecurity education is a must for all members of an organisation. Employees should know what to look for in the case of a phishing scam or data breach. Employees might be encouraged to discuss cybersecurity via training sessions and email phishing tests. This will help them learn more about the subject.