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While healthcare tech has made it easier for hospitals, pharmaceuticals, and telehealth companies to conduct their daily operations, adopting these technologies also comes with risks. Since organizations in healthcare regularly handle sensitive data, it’s no surprise that they are prime targets of cybercriminals.

According to the IBM Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021, the average healthcare data breach amounted to $9.3 million in 2021. It’s imperative to be aware of the potential security threats to ensure the safety of your patients and institution.

Cybersecurity Threats in Healthcare

1. Vulnerable or outdated medical devices

Medical devices like insulin pumps, X-rays, and defibrillators are essential in modern healthcare centers. These devices are designed to monitor vital signs like heart rate or administer drugs, but they do not have security features. While the devices themselves do not store sensitive data, they could serve as an entry point and a catalyst to a server attack. Any Internet of Things (IoT) connected medical devices increase the risk of a breach considerably. 

2. Lack of cybersecurity training

Failure to properly train and inform staff of cybersecurity threats can increase the likelihood of an attack. The weakest cybersecurity link in your medical practice can often be the user, so ensure that your staff is aware of the best cybersecurity practices. 

3. Phishing

Healthcare institutions are prime targets for malicious schemes such as phishing. Typically, phishing attacks involve a staff member receiving emails designed to resemble messages from trusted individuals or credible organizations. These messages contain links and attachments that the staff member could click, possibly resulting in sensitive healthcare data leaks and cyberattacks.

4. Unrestricted access to computers

Unsecured devices and computers in restricted areas can be easily accessed by unauthorized personnel. A general access computer provides an entry point for attackers to explore more sensitive areas of the network. They can be exploited to siphon possible damaging sensitive patient information. If your organization does not already keep such devices on a separate guest network, it should set one up ASAP.

5. Insider threats

Threats may also lie within your organization in the form of insiders. Insiders possess legitimate credentials that enable them to commit a healthcare data breach or cyberattack. Insider threats could launch cyberattacks against their employers voluntarily or against their will (as a result of phishing or credential theft). Proper background checks on the staff can help mitigate the risk of an incident due to malicious intent.

6. Ransomware

Malware attacks such as ransomware can result from healthcare providers not following best security practices or a hacker’s intentional, calculated attack.

When a device or machine is infected by ransomware, files and data are encrypted. The hackers want you to believe the only way to regain access is by paying a ransom to the criminals who carried out the attack. More and more it’s recommended to not pay the ransom, and instead ensure your systems are regularly backed up or hire a specialist IT firm for help.  

Healthcare Cybersecurity Tips

1. Set up robust access control protocols 

Ensure that your security team carefully controls patient data access and only allows authorized individuals to access records. Set file access permissions and manually allow only specific personnel access to data by using an access control list. Before implementation, scrutinize and identify the particular files accessible to certain employees.

2. Adopt a layered security framework

Layered security protocols act like locked doors for a database. If an attacker penetrates through one layer, sensitive files remain inaccessible because there are still several additional lines of defense. 

3. Conduct periodical risk assessments

Finding your organization’s database vulnerabilities can make it harder for cybercriminals to launch an attack. Assessing risk is essential before formulating actions, considering the probability of occurrence, organizational impact, and risk prioritization. Conduct risk assessments regularly or at least once a year to learn about your organization’s potential security risks.

4. Update software

Ensure all software and operating systems are updated. It’s a very simple action that has significant repercussions. Running outdated software leaves your organization’s database vulnerable to cybercriminals who’ve identified a way to exploit older software versions. Critical security patches discourage hackers from further infiltrating previously found weaknesses in your organization’s system.

5. Enlist professional services

Mitigate healthcare cybersecurity threats by assigning network security to a specialized outside agency. Seeking help from security experts provides professional network safety, support, skilled security resources, and leveraging experience across the healthcare industry.

 Prevention Over Cure

Healthcare professionals dedicate their lives to providing people with medical treatment. However, cybercriminals are not above exploiting healthcare organizations for their gain. It’s imperative to be aware of specific cybersecurity threats and how to handle them to protect your organization and patients from possible harmful information dissemination.

If you’re looking to improve your organization’s security, consider a partnership with Q5id. Our identity proofing and authentication solutions will ensure that your patients’ data is kept safe, allowing you to focus on providing the best medical treatment.

Get in touch with us today for more information!

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