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According to IBM Security Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021 healthcare organizations experienced the highest average cost of a data breach, for the eleventh year in a row with costs increasing from an average total cost of $7.13 million in 2020 to $9.23 million in 2021, a 29.5% increase.  It is estimated that more than 40 million patient records were compromised last year even without a lot more cyber-attacks being reported. The trend is expected to continue well into 2022. This is because ransomware attacks have been quite successful and irrespective of the level of success, the attempts at attacking targets multiple times pose little threat to the attackers. In fact, experts such as Cybersecurity Fresno warn that attacks are going to get even more targeted and sophisticated as time progresses. The primary modes of attack will involve ransomware, supply chain attacks, and people-centric security issues arising from human error and insider threats. It is hardly surprising then that Cybersecurity in the Healthcare market is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.1% from 2020 to 2028.

Common Security Threats to Healthcare Businesses

Phishing

Phishing is increasingly being used as the baseline to launch a wide variety of Healthcare Cybersecurity Attacks. Phishing attacks are typically used to dupe victims by pretending to be a trusted source and forcing them to take action or disclose highly sensitive information. The victim is typically manipulated into divulging sensitive information, using malicious links, or opening a malicious attachment. With most users more pinched for time than ever, phishing attacks can be successful without even trying hard. There is documented evidence that shows that phishing attacks become more frequent during seasons where users are likely to be short on time or highly stressed such as emergencies, tax season, natural disasters or even pandemics.

Ransomware and Other Malware

As the name suggests, ransomware attacks work through gaining access to the victim’s system and locking the user out of the system by encrypting all mission-critical system files and folders. This kind of attacks have been concentrated on the healthcare industry for the past few years, thanks to the value of healthcare data. The problem is that with ransomware attacks there is no guarantee that you will actually get your data back intact, even after paying the ransom. The criminals could still decide to go ahead and disclose highly sensitive information to bring reputational damage to the company or sell it on the dark web.

IoT Attacks

With IIoT taking hold and IoT devices becoming increasingly commonplace in both our places of work and life, many criminals are seeking to exploit the proliferation of IoT devices. For one thing, IoT devices often feature very low or even no existing security protocols. This can be a real danger to industries such as healthcare where IoT plays a critical role and is expected to be used in the long term since it results in a much higher degree of energy efficiency, productivity, and cost savings. Connected IoT in healthcare connects everything from smart heating, HVAC systems, remote patient monitoring systems, etc. where a single attack can have a devastating impact potentially resulting not just in loss of productivity, reputation and financial damage but also in actual lives lost.

Distributed Denial-Of-Service (Ddos) Attacks

Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are also commonly targeted at the healthcare industry in order to disrupt critical services such as appointment booking systems, access to healthcare data and even to leverage IoT attacks.

HIPPA Privacy and Security Rules

All healthcare service providers in the US fall under the ambit of HIPAA regulations. It’s the responsibility of healthcare providers and associated businesses to comply with the latest requirements of HIPAA compliance. HIPAA covers two key components when it comes to healthcare data protection:

HIPAA Security Rule – This covers the creation, use, receipt, and maintenance of electronic personal health information by organizations operating under HIPAA. This essentially defines how HIPAA compliant organizations can handle personal health information for administrative, physical, and technical purposes inside the organization.

HIPAA Privacy Rule – This is in place to secure the integrity and privacy of personal health information such as medical history and records, insurance information, and other details of a highly sensitive nature. This rule helps companies determine what information can be used by healthcare organizations (and in what way) and may not be shared with third parties without prior patient authorization.

To ensure thorough and continued HIPAA compliance for your healthcare organization, download our free HIPAA compliance checklist here.

3 Healthcare Cybersecurity Best Practices

Thinking security-first in healthcare organizations

In order to protect sensitive healthcare data in the long term, you need to float a security-first mindset from the top to the bottom of your organization. Data security needs to be put right into corporate values. It’s not enough to just talk about security as a value, but actually document the corporate commitment to security so it becomes ingrained in employees. Security needs to be integral to your short and long-term strategy planning and budgeting.

Secure mobile devices and content on mobile

With mobile devices becoming ubiquitous in healthcare, it is incredibly important for healthcare companies to secure healthcare data access on mobile devices through Healthcare Cybersecurity Solutions. Organizations should start off with data encryption and HIPAA compliance in mobile device management systems (MDMS) for effective administration and compliance. In addition, many companies are also exploring the possibility to invest in mobile content management in order to mitigate risks through secure file-sharing and authentication. Enterprise mobility management systems, such as those offered by IT Support Redding can also be an effective option.

Ensure updated software and Operating Systems

In such a high threat scenario, healthcare organizations can no longer afford any lags in software updates and security patches. Keep in mind that hackers start being active the moment software updates are released, as they actively hunt for organizations who have not updated their systems and remain exposed to vulnerabilities. Outdated operating systems can also hinder the ability of your medical equipment to deliver quality care.

Marketing & Communications Manager at Apex Technology Management, California-based IT Support Company. She is an expert in in-depth market research and knows how to stay on top of the most recent industry trends. She has a strong focus on budgeting and ensuring maximum profitability in the business.

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