In an increasingly complex and digital world, healthcare organizations are a prime target for hackers. They’re often responsible for handling massive amounts of patient data and a vast network of medical devices.
As a result, healthcare organizations are facing cybersecurity risks that are harmful not only to their business operations but also to patients. Here are the top cybersecurity threats that healthcare organizations should be aware of.
Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts data and files, so they aren’t accessible until the victim pays a ransom. It’s one of the most common cyberattacks and a severe threat to the healthcare industry.
Hospitals are increasingly vulnerable to ransomware attacks because of the digitized nature of patient health records. These files are more valuable in the criminal marketplace than financial information. Hackers can demand more money for health records than credit cards or Social Security numbers.
The healthcare industry has suffered several high-profile ransomware attacks, including a data breach that affected a patient’s care at UVM Medical Center in September. The attack prompted the hospital to suspend operations until it could restore the files.
Hospitals and other healthcare organizations should implement comprehensive cybersecurity in healthcare to thwart ransomware attacks. Authorities say these should include a robust backup strategy and offline patient data storage. They also should patch and update VPN servers and remote access software. They should also train staff on phishing techniques and avoid clicking on links in emails or unfamiliar websites.
One of the most common ways cybercriminals try to compromise the healthcare industry is by using phishing. Unlike other attacks, phishing emails are designed to appear as real messages from a trusted source. This makes it easier for hackers to lure people into clicking on them.
These attacks can devastate a healthcare organization, especially when they threaten patient data or medical devices that could cause harm to patients. Fortunately, phishing is not impossible to avoid.
Training employees on phishing indicators and preventing them from becoming victims of these scams is critical. The best way to do this is through security awareness training.
In addition, healthcare professionals must be able to use their mobile devices safely. Many of these people work remotely, which puts them at risk for phishing attacks.
Healthcare providers must take steps to protect their systems from phishing attacks. This involves educating their staff, implementing technical safeguards, and following the latest cybersecurity guidelines. It also means investing in cybersecurity software that will help detect and protect against phishing scams.
Malware is software installed on a computer to collect information or take over its functionality. It can also be used to attack other computers and networks. Healthcare organizations are particularly susceptible to malware because of the sensitive data they store and the many medical devices that connect to their computer systems.
Cybercriminals have been targeting the health industry for years. But a rush to connect remote patient care services has led to a spike in security attacks against the sector.
In particular, hackers have been using ransomware to encrypt electronic health records and other data. The attack works by forcing the victim to pay a certain amount in exchange for access to the files again.
A recent survey of 132 healthcare executives found that ransomware was the top cybersecurity threat. It’s no wonder this attack is becoming increasingly common, as cybercriminals see an opportunity to monetize stolen data.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a wide-ranging category encompassing everything from at-home gadgets to sophisticated sensors monitoring machinery on the factory floor or in the field. These are often used for various purposes, such as sending text messages or alarms about carbon monoxide buildup in the home or intelligent thermostats alerting utility companies when their temperature is outside a safe range.
Despite their value, cybercriminals can exploit IoT devices as entry points into the healthcare industry. For example, hackers can compromise an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) unit and use it as an entry point to gain access to the network.
These attacks can be particularly devastating for hospitals. For example, a hacker could drain the battery of an implanted pacemaker or steal critical patient data, leading to life-threatening complications.
To mitigate these risks, healthcare organizations should ensure that all IoT devices are correctly mapped and inventoried and installed with manufacturer-issued patches or continuous vulnerability scans. Security must also be included in the design phase rather than as an afterthought.
Insider threats involve people who have access to healthcare organizations’ systems and data. These could be employees or contractors. In some cases, the access may be legitimate.
In other cases, however, the threat could be malicious. Typically, insiders will be disgruntled and seek retribution.
Often, these threats result in data breaches and information leakage. This can lead to negative impacts on an organization’s reputation and revenue.
While there are many ways to protect against insider threats, one of the best ways is to implement cybersecurity awareness training for employees. Employees should be trained to identify risky behavior and report it to their HR or IT security teams.
Another way to mitigate the risks associated with insider threats is to have a robust system for tracking user activity across multiple platforms and devices. This allows for a baseline of normal user behavior that can be used to flag deviations or anomalies.
In addition, it is also essential to maintain a zero-trust cyber security policy. This policy will ensure that employees cannot use the company’s information or resources for personal gain.