The Importance of Cybersecurity in Healthcare

healthcare cybersecurity

Healthcare cybersecurity is the measures and practices implemented to safeguard medical data, networks, and medical devices from cybercriminals. When it comes to cybersecurity, no sector is more vulnerable or attractive to bad actors than the healthcare industry. 

Cyberattacks have been on a meteoric rise over the past few years. As a result, 94% of all organizations have been experiencing at least one cyberattack in 2022, according to a recent article published in the HIPAA Journal.  

Cybercrimes can be costly and damaging in any industry, but this is particularly true for healthcare organizations. Between March 2021 and March 2022, the average cost of healthcare data breaches amounted to over 10 million U.S. dollars, up from 9.23 million dollars between 2020 and 2021. This made the healthcare industry the costliest sector in the world when it came to data breaches. Additionally, the financial industry coming in a distant second with a total cost of 5.97 million dollars per breach on average. 

Why is Cybersecurity in Healthcare Important?  

It’s imperative that every healthcare organization has a comprehensive cybersecurity plan in place to combat these waves of cyberattacks, and that starts with understanding the problem.  

Before you can partner with an expert cybersecurity resource, it helps to understand why the healthcare industry is so prone to cyberattacks. Also, it’s important to understand how bad actors use a myriad of methods to gain access to a wealth of vulnerable data. 

Why is the Healthcare Industry the Most Common Target for Cyberattacks? 

There are two main reasons bad actors target the healthcare sector more than any other sector: opportunity and financial reward.  

According to the American Hospital Association, stolen health records can sell up to 10 times more than stolen credit card numbers on the dark web. That’s because this targeted data includes patients’ protected health information. For instance, personally identifying information such as Social Security numbers and financial information like credit card and bank account numbers. All of which is much more valuable than a credit card number alone.  

As for the opportunity, healthcare organizations are arguably more connected to the internet than any other organization, with hundreds of entry points for bad actors. This has also increased with the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, as more hospitals, medical facilities, and other healthcare organizations launched new online tools to connect with patients. Therefore, these new and vulnerable entry points increased the possibilities of cyberattacks. 

Cybersecurity in Healthcare – Secure Your Healthcare Organization  

Cybercriminals can gain access to a healthcare system by hacking into an office computer, but they can also gain access through medical devices. These medical devices include doctor or patients’ portals, affiliated organizations like pharmacies, and mobile devices that are used on the go. 

You need a wide range of in-house and mobile devices to provide the best possible care for your patients. However, having access to all this modern technology inherently means there are more access points for cybercriminals to gain access to your broader system. 

What are Some Challenges of IT and Healthcare Cybersecurity?  How Do Bad Actors Gain Access to Your Organization? 

The full list of how bad actors connect to a healthcare organization’s data is lengthy and ever-changing. Even so, there are a few prevalent themes when it comes to weak points in healthcare cybersecurity.  

Outdated Software and Systems  

Software and medical device providers are constantly churning out updates to their products simply because cybercriminals find new ways to gain entry behind the scenes. If you have an outdated program, software, or medical device, it can lead to a cyberattack on medical devices or related systems. A medical device security breach can easily network across an organization, resulting in a costly loss or a halt in everyday operations.  

Unfortunately, checking every medical device and software in your organization can be impossible to ensure everything is up-to-date and running at its most recent version. That is why this type of cyberattack is continually prevalent and increasing every year. 

Vulnerable Personnel  

When it comes to healthcare cybersecurity, your personnel can be at the front lines of a potential attack. Unfortunately, it takes just one weak link or one minor mistake for an organization-wide data breach to occur. 

Phishing is typically the initial point of compromise for significant cyberattacks in healthcare. Additionally, it entails fooling a targeted individual into disclosing personal information or clicking on a malicious link or attachment that leads to broader system access.  

Cybercriminals have become much savvier when it comes to phishing techniques.  It takes a keen eye and extensive training to filter through these limitless attempts to access patients’ data. As such, both small and large healthcare organizations are constantly at risk of being the target of phishing scams Also, this risk grows with the number of employees and contractors connected to your organization. 

Internal Threats, Patients, Partners, and Other Entry Points 

Doctors, nurses, and personnel aren’t the only parties connected to your healthcare organization’s network. Outside contractors, partners like pharmacies or other medical providers, and even patients can all serve as a tenuous link to your organization when it comes to cyberattacks and data breaches 

Simply put, even if your office has outstanding cybersecurity training and policies in place for your own team, there is a world of connected parties who might not be as adept at recognizing potential cybersecurity risks and attacks. 

Protect Your Healthcare Organization with Advanced Cybersecurity  

With the healthcare sector being a constant target for perpetual cyberattacks, having an experienced partner is key for better protection across the board. 

Even the largest hospitals and healthcare organizations often don’t have the in-house IT resources to navigate every cyberthreat and protect every medical device. Additionally, a weak link can cost millions of dollars and, more importantly, lives. 

In order to tackle every aspect of complete healthcare security, from cybersecurity for medical devices to overall best practices, you need an expert who knows the risks and the weak spots just as well as the bad actors do.  

Partner with Emeritus for Superior Cybersecurity in Healthcare 

This is what Emeritus does best.  With our IT and cybersecurity engineers at your side, you can create an organization-wide cybersecurity plan that will keep you protected inside and out. When it comes to cybersecurity, the healthcare industry is exceptionally vulnerable, and more so now than ever before.  

Don’t wait for a devastating healthcare data breach to occur to take action. 

We provide cybersecurity services for medical devices and healthcare organizations in Dallas, Texas, and across the nation. Let’s work together to ensure that your facility is fully covered and protected when it comes to the rising threats of cyberattacks 

 Reach out to Emeritus today. 

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