The healthcare industry is vital for society. Unfortunately, it is a sector that faces various problems even in the wealthiest countries. From lack of qualified personnel to scarce funding, there are several challenges ahead for any hospital or other healthcare organization. One of the most vital and yet overlooked is cybersecurity.
Patients’ private data and healthcare records can be considered sensitive information to be stored and managed carefully. And yet the fact remains that most organizations in the sector don’t have the needed preparation to face the cyber threats ahead of them. The CyberPeace Institute had analyzed data from cyberattacks in the healthcare industry in 33 countries, showing over 11 million breaches and cases when systems went offline in almost 80% of the cases. There also have been cases of canceled surgeries and misdirected ambulance calls. Not something you want happening to you or some of your loved ones.
What are the biggest cybersecurity challenges in the healthcare industry?
Many would agree that the primary focus of healthcare is not cybersecurity. And while that is true, the times we live in make it a subject that needs attention and action. However, for healthcare organizations (especially the ones in the public sector), many challenges are barriers to adapting effective cybersecurity measures:
- Lack of knowledge about the subject from management and staff;
- Connected medical devices like pacemakers have limited or no security at all;
- Challenge in finding and retaining high-quality IT talent within the organization;
- Old technology and software that increase the chance of vulnerabilities;
- In a busy and stressful work environment where saving lives is a priority, it is difficult to find time to implement cybersecurity measures in the daily operations of a hospital or any other similar organization.
There is another thing to consider here. The data that healthcare organizations store is very appealing to hackers, and it is easily sellable on the darknet. Medical records, for example, are assets of interest to people who want to commit insurance fraud. All of that should signal the red flag that everyone in the industry should make cybersecurity a strategic priority.
What are the biggest cybersecurity threats for healthcare organizations?
The truth is that the major cyber threats are relatively common for all organizations that handle sensitive data and have a hard time keeping it safe. Most hackers rely on human errors or technology with low cyber defense to be able to carry out a cyberattack:
- Data from wearable medical devices that patients use can be accessed, monitored, and stolen. Some medical experts have even gone further saying that hackers can interfere with the functionality of such wearables;
- Phishing attacks are the first one on the list of the biggest cybersecurity threats;
- Access to devices from a person who is not authorized;
- Cyber attack due to network vulnerability;
- Ransomware and malware attacks;
- Data breach due to weak password management;
- Hacked devices.
These are some specific cases that can be a potential entry point for any hackers. However, any organization has individual vulnerabilities in its cyber defense that need attention and supervision.
What can organizations in the sector do to be better protected?
While there is legislation to protect sensitive patient data, healthcare organizations should know what they can do to improve their cybersecurity. For this to happen, the people in charge of any such entity should prioritize creating a solid cyber defense and maintaining it constantly. And while the tailor-made approach is the best way to go when addressing the specific needs of every organization in the industry, several universal good practices exist:
- Consult with an external cybersecurity expert about your needs;
- Conduct vulnerability and risk assessment to determine the main weak points;
- Invest in staff awareness training about the primary cyber threats like phishing;
- Adopt practices for secure management of data;
- Enforce secure device management by implementing 2-factor authentication practices;
- Invest in the safety of your network infrastructure;
- Work with reliable 3rd party vendors.
However, the first and most crucial step is finding a reliable expert to help with your cybersecurity needs. From that point on, you can work together with the experts on your organization’s cybersecurity posture.
We at 3Cyber-Sec have worked with many businesses and organizations and helped them strengthen their cyber defenses. We are sure we can do the same for you. Just give us a call, and we will arrange a meeting!