The Ultimate Guide to Healthcare Cybersecurity in 2023
Healthcare Cybersecurity Topics
The healthcare industry is experiencing explosive growth: The U.S. healthcare industry alone is projected to hit $665.37 billion by 2028 according to Verified Market Research and is responsible for roughly 30% of the world’s data. As healthcare generates even more personal data through advanced technologies like 3-D imaging, artificial intelligence, and machine learning systems, healthcare cybersecurity is increasingly important.
As technology continues to advance, healthcare provides must ensure confidential health information remains secure. Because personal identifiable information (PII) is a goldmine for cybercriminals, healthcare providers are often more susceptible to being attacked. The healthcare industry was the target of 41% of cyberattacks, making security a mission-critical endeavor for hospitals, physicians, providers, and other healthcare organizations.
In this article, we’ll explore:
- What is healthcare cybersecurity?
- Why healthcare information security is important
- The most common healthcare cyber threats
- How to improve cybersecurity in the healthcare industry
- How to work with an expert managed services provider for healthcare cybersecurity
What is Healthcare Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is critical in many sensitive, vulnerable industries, such as education, the supply chain, and, of course, healthcare. Healthcare cybersecurity involves the protection of electronic information and assets from any unauthorized use or disclosure. The ultimate goal of healthcare and hospital cybersecurity is to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information.
Protecting patient data is critical, and physicians and providers need to stay HIPAA compliant to maintain their licenses. Healthcare organizations face significant cybersecurity risks that put patient safety at risk, as well as the integrity of facilities.
Why Healthcare Information Security Is Important
So, why is healthcare cybersecurity so critically important? First, personal health information is highly valuable. On the black market, personal health data is 50 times more valuable than even financial information according to Experian. A single patient record can sell for upwards of $1,000, and with high-profile data breaches, criminals can steal millions of patient records.
Common Healthcare Cyber Threats
Like many other types of cybercrime, healthcare data breaches and cyberattacks have become increasingly sophisticated over the last few years. Attackers are using advanced technology like AI to infiltrate systems, and phishing scams have become even more realistic and hard to detect. Here are a few of the most common healthcare cyber threats.
Ransomware attacks not only account for about 50% of healthcare data breaches, but they have also doubled in frequency within the last five years according to the Ponemon Institute. In a healthcare ransomware attack, malware invades and encrypts a computer network, making the files and information inaccessible. Healthcare organizations must pay a monetary ransom to potentially have their data and infrastructure unlocked.
Ransomware is also extremely costly; research by Comparitech estimated $44 million has been paid to criminals in healthcare-related ransomware attacks, and the expenses don’t stop there. As patient confidentiality is paramount, hospitals will also spend 64% more annually in the two years following a data breach to repair their reputation and rebuild trust according to a report by Radware.
Another common type of healthcare cyber threat is phishing scams or email fraud. Email communication is often the main point of information compromise in healthcare. Phishing scams are especially worrisome for the healthcare industry, as they can expose patients’ names, dates of birth, medical record numbers, and Social Security numbers. Healthcare employees are often the target of phishing scams, according to a study by Tessian and Stanford University Professor Jeff Hancock an estimated 88% of data breaches are due to human error.
Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS)
A Distributed Denial-of-Service, or DDoS, attack is when cyber criminals flood a server to prevent users from accessing information. It can be temporary or indefinite, disrupts service, and can crash the system.
In healthcare, DDoS attacks can stop an organization in its tracks. DDoS attacks can prevent providers from accessing patient medical records, sending prescriptions, viewing X-rays or other imagery, and other necessary business operations.
While healthcare has experienced rapid digital transformation in the last few years, many critical infrastructures and data architecture are housed on outdated technology. Not only do outdated legacy systems create unnecessary bloat, costs, and redundancies within the healthcare business, but their security systems are often incredibly vulnerable. Many old systems lack security support or employee knowledge to patch systems, leaving software open to attacks.
Legacy systems might also not be monitored, leaving vulnerabilities wide open to cyberattacks that might not even be immediately flagged. As a result, legacy technology was reported as the third biggest security challenge facing healthcare cybersecurity programs in the HIMSS Healthcare Cybersecurity survey.
Recent Healthcare Cyberattacks
Healthcare cyber attacks have become increasingly significant and newsworthy, and millions of patient records have been exposed in high-profile data breaches. Healthcare organizations also face significant fines when data breaches occur, in addition to any ransom charges, business loss, and reputational damage. HIPAA fines alone can range anywhere from $100 to $50,000 per violation, and healthcare companies can receive more lawsuits and civil complaints on top of that.
Mental Health App – Cerebral
Online mental healthcare platform Cerebral exposed 3.1 million users’ information in a data breach in February 2023. Cerebral used pixel tracking, like many other companies, but as consumer tracking regulations have changed, information like name, phone number, email address, date of birth, IP address, and Cerebral client ID number might’ve been exposed.
Regal Medical Group
Regal Medical Group was the victim of a ransomware attack that exposed the private information of roughly 3.3 million people. Information like Social Security numbers, medical records, diagnoses, and treatment plans might have been leaked.
Managed Care of North America
Managed Care of North America was the victim of 2023’s largest healthcare-related cyberattack. More than 8.8 million Americans had sensitive information like full names, Social Security numbers, insurance information, and more exposed to criminals.
How to Improve Cybersecurity in the Healthcare Industry
Healthcare organizations should have a robust cybersecurity infrastructure. From the first line of defense with employee security awareness training to strong endpoint device security, all of these elements work together to protect patients, organizations, and providers alike from cyber attacks.
A thoughtfully configured firewall can catch many cyber threats before they even infiltrate a system. Managed firewalls are operated by third-party cybersecurity experts and work around the clock to deter email hacking, network hacking, or attackers trying to destroy disaster recovery systems.
As healthcare organizations are constantly under attack, managed firewalls help ensure firewalls are properly configured, deployed, and updated to proactively deter criminals. Often breaches are due to firewall misconfigurations and human error. Having a managed firewall helps ensure your firewall is set up correctly. There are several advantages a managed firewall brings to the table that help strengthen the security of healthcare organizations to better protect them from the newest crimes cyber criminals develop.
Endpoint devices, like mobile phones or physician tablets, are increasingly vulnerable. As devices move around on the go, they are exposed to unsafe Wi-Fi networks, making them a prime target for man-in-the-middle attacks and ransomware. For healthcare providers, endpoint security is more than simple perimeter detection. It provides detection, alerting, and immediate response to threats at the device level, meaning you don’t have to worry about doctors accessing patient records on the go.
Backups and Disaster Recovery
Even with the strongest cybersecurity protocols, a data breach or attack can occur. If the worst does happen, healthcare organizations must ensure they have proactive, remotely managed backups. Disaster recovery protocols help get operations back online and minimize data loss. Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) and Backups solutions offer cloud-based backup management, which helps minimize downtime and keeping your healthcare business up and running.
Security Awareness Training
As employees are often the first line of defense against phishing, scams, and other types of attacks, basic employee security awareness training is a must-have. Employees will learn how to recognize and avoid cyber attacks, and that will help healthcare organizations reduce their costs and liabilities. TPx’s industry-leading security awareness training can reduce phishing email click rates by 75%, saving your healthcare business potentially millions of dollars in monetary damage and reputational loss.
Email security should be a top priority for healthcare organizations as emails are a highly vulnerable form of communication constantly going in and out of a healthcare organization. Managed Inbox Detection and Response (IDR) proactively monitors suspicious activity and emails, flagging them before employees or users ever even have the chance to accidentally click on them. Deceptive emails cost businesses $54 million, according to the FBI’s IC3 2022 report, but with Managed IDR, healthcare providers can use automated and human intelligence to protect email communications.
Working With a Managed Services Provider for Healthcare Cybersecurity
Working with an expert managed security provider is a cost-effective and efficient way of bolstering your cybersecurity posture. It also allows internal healthcare IT teams to focus on other IT priorities and ensures your healthcare organization gets the most specialized cybersecurity services needed to keep patient data protected.
TPx works with industry-leading healthcare providers and organizations to strengthen every aspect of their cybersecurity infrastructure, from endpoint security and awareness training to proactive firewalls and disaster recovery. Get in touch with us below to see how we can help your organization.
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