Cybersecurity In The Healthcare Industry: Threats, Challenges & Prevention

Cybersecurity In The Healthcare Industry: Threats, Challenges & Prevention

When was the last time you checked a piece of news about healthcare data being hacked? The healthcare industry is not out of danger caused by data breaches. In fact, the industry is increasingly targeted by cybercriminals nowadays. According to a report, “data breaches have been increased by 12% within the past five years, with the healthcare industry experiencing the highest costs at $6.5 million on average per breach.”

Therefore, healthcare practitioners cannot just take the matter of cybersecurity lightly. Time has come when they must give importance to it and invest in bringing betterment in digital security.

In today’s post, I am going to give you a complete overview about cybersecurity in healthcare industry – the threats caused due to cyberattack, the major cybersecurity risks in the medical sector, the possible reasons for which medical data gets hacked, and above all how healthcare industry can improve in the field of cybersecurity and protect their patients information. So, without further ado, let’s start the discussion.

Major Threats Caused Due To Cyberattack

Electronic Health Records (EHR) include various details about patients, such as the test results, medical history, etc. Thus, securing a health organization network is a major IT concern. Electronic Health Records have made it possible for healthcare professionals and insurance agencies to share important details. As a result, both can coordinate and facilitate insurance matters in an easy way. Indeed these records have helped the medical professional collaborate for meeting patient’s needs efficiently.

However, this interconnected nature of today’s healthcare industry has a downside too. It creates digital security risks. The shared medical details have improved the patient care process. But the same thing can put these patients at risk as well. Wider the healthcare network becomes, the more useful it is in delivering high-quality health care, but its details also become more inviting to cybercriminals.

But why healthcare centers have become easy targets for cyber threats?

There are a few reasons for this:

  • Healthcare networks can contain important financial information apart from patients’ medical records.
  • The network has entire personal details of everyone in some form, as there are hardly any people who do not consult a healthcare provider.
  • The way Electronic Health Records are interconnected, it signifies that hackers can have access to the information that can be collected under various patients’ names for a long time. Sharing these details is important for delivering the best possible care to the patients, but the same thing also makes all the networks very vulnerable targets for hackers.

And this vulnerability leads to compromise among the patients’ data. Due to lack of management, EHRs and other valuable details can fall into malevolent hands.

Below Are Some Possible Cybersecurity Threats:

1 Employees

Access to the patients’ information is easily available from the medical staff. There is no guarantee any employee will not illegally access the sensitive information.  The stolen information can be mishandled by criminals in many ways. They can do identity theft, make fraudulent purchases, or blackmail people with such information.

2 Phishing & Malware Schemes

These can plant malevolent scripts on a computer or steal sign-in credentials. And as a result, the whole network gets badly affected. One of the most common malware schemes is requesting sign-in information through emails from websites. Once a user gives the sign-in credentials, the hacker can sign in to the system. Diverse kinds of viruses will store the records-related information and automatically address it back to the actual host or allow it to get in action later.

3 Vendors

Medical professionals often have to work with different vendors without being aware of the associated risks. For example, if a cleaning agency is hired by a hospital, there is a possibility of that the agency’s employees get access to the hospital’s computers. While the personal details of patients should be safeguarded in such a way so that not all employees can view, it can not be guaranteed to keep the details completely secure since cleaning and other maintenance are important for keeping a health organization’s environment healthy.

4 Smartphone Devices

The medical facilities that allow sign-ins through mobile phones do not always need the phones to meet the security standards. This increases the vulnerability of their networks to cybercriminals. Also, stolen or lost mobile devices, which once used for accessing any healthcare facility, act as threats. If a lost or stolen phone comes in the wrong hands, the user can access that phone’s old or stored sign-in details and access the system. And such malicious action makes the process of resealing the data breach challenging.

5 Open Computer Access

Unlimited access to computers present in healthcare organizations can increase risks. If sensitive details about patients are stored in these computers and hackers get access in an unauthorized way, phishing attempts can be done easily, and hackers can have a gateway into the sensitive areas of the network.

6 Insufficient Discard Of Outdated Hardware

Old outdated hard drives and hardware that are used for accessing a network with credentials or electronic health records do not guarantee any security for those details even after the deletion. It has been noticed that after deleting the data and reformatting the devices, recovering the data is possible. In short, with outdated hard drives, anything that is once saved is always vulnerable.

Read More: cybersecurity in healthcare


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