With hospitals and care facilities taking center stage due to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States, the need for more adept cybersecurity in that sector has grown. Across the globe, cybersecurity experts are concerned over the integrity of the cybersecurity infrastructure among healthcare providers and hospitals as they are increasingly becoming susceptible to cyber attacks.
But even without these unprecedented times, the industry has seen a major influx of data breaches and malware attacks in recent years, causing a firestorm of discussion around what the industry needs to do to protect patient information and financial records. Data breaches end up costing the industry more than $6 billion annually and can affect nearly 30 million patient records.
Whether it’s underinvestment in cybersecurity or lack of awareness, the industry needs to be more vigilant in times of crisis like today in order to protect sensitive data and finances with different Types of Cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity Challenges in Healthcare
Most cybersecurity breaches are focused on money and attackers usually take the easiest road to obtain the information they are looking for. And since patient information is so valuable, hackers are zeroing in on an industry that is both particularly vulnerable to attacks and flush with data.
There are many common threats that continue to be problematic in health care, including:
- Ransomware: Cyber criminals can use malware and ransomware to shut down devices, such as computers, laptops, mobile devices, and more, as well as entire networks. In some instances, a ransom is demanded to rectify an attack, but hackers may not make good on their promise to hand back the data they have stolen.
- Cloud Threats: It’s becoming more and more the norm to store information from healthcare providers in cloud systems, such as Google Cloud. Without the proper level of encryption, this can present a weak point for the security of healthcare organizations.
- Phishing Attacks: This kind of attack sends out massive amounts of emails from reputable-looking sources to steal sensitive information from users and get more access to their financial information.
- Medical Devices: While technology has made care and gathering patient information more streamlined through medical devices, it’s also opened the door to more attacks and more vulnerability. As pacemakers and other hospital equipment become digitally connected, they face the same weaknesses as other computer systems.
- Blind Spots: While encryption is critical for protecting health information, it can also create blind spots where hackers can hide from the tools meant to seek out breaches and keep providers safe.
- Employee Error: Employees play a major role in the overall integrity and health of a hospital’s data. From weak passwords to unencrypted devices and other failures or compliance, user error can end up costing a hospital in terms of finances and lost information.
Improving Cybersecurity in the Healthcare Industry
Because of the significant financial impact of data breaches in the healthcare industry, health informatics and other healthcare professionals can play an important role in ensuring that medical organizations remain safe and secure.
The following tips can help providers keep data breaches at bay while improving their awareness on the subject of data security:
- Protect Mobile Devices: While it may create a more efficient process to work with medical devices, connecting our devices to the internet more readily can present an opportunity for hackers to infiltrate them. Organizations need to put an emphasis on safety for these devices by installing encryption and other protective measures that are critical to ensuring security.
- Security Culture: Ongoing education opportunities and training when it comes to network security should be provided to every member of an organization. This will help create a culture of security and keep employees informed of the risks they face.
- Install Anti-Virus Software: Simply installing anti-virus software may not be enough to keep everything safe and secure. Regular updates are essential for ensuring healthcare systems receive the best protection at any given time.
- Use Strong Passwords: Nearly two-thirds of data breaches involve taking advantage of passwords that were a default, weak or stolen. Healthcare employees should not only use stronger passwords, but ensure they are changed on a regular basis.
About Highland Risk
At Highland Risk, we use our expertise and experience to provide insurance information and programs to those who serve long-term care and senior living facilities. Since 2007, we’ve been offering insurance and risk management plans designed to help our agents give their clients the ability to achieve continued growth while simultaneously protecting against loss, containing costs and increasing profitability. With three offices to serve you in Chicago, Illinois; Phoenix, Arizona; and Burlington, Connecticut, we do everything we can to make your experience with us as professional and transparent as possible. To learn more, contact us at (877) 890-9301.