Digital technologies have changed the healthcare business in a big way over the past ten years. Moreover, the global pandemic has sped up data and processes, making it hard for the world to stay the same. But it needs to be clarified how well Healthcare can protect patient privacy.
In 2022, several high-profile security breaches in healthcare involved the stealing of medical records especially using malware and ransomware. As more health information is stored digitally, it is easier to hack. And because health data is becoming more valuable than credit card information, cyberattacks are only worsening.
These data attacks are happening so often that cybersecurity is now the biggest problem in the healthcare industry. In 2023, hackers will only change how they try to exploit this value by holding health data for ransom.
Importance of Cybersecurity in HealthCare
Electronic Protected Health Information or ePHI, one of the most important aspects of Healthcare is at risk. It is handled by almost every clinic and hospital through different digital systems. EHRs Electronic Health Records and other types of software are used by doctors and healthcare providers to deal with medical technology and information. Hence, there’s a high chance that hackers are likely to target and steal this information.
As the number of cyber-attacks goes up, companies in healthcare and many other industries are spending more on cybersecurity. It means they are hiring more IT workers with experience in network security.
Cybersecurity is critical in healthcare because better firewalls, encryption solutions, and segmented networks will keep the patient’s data safe.
Professionals in data security know how to test for system vulnerabilities, look into incidents, update hardware and software that is old or dangerous, and make security protocols.
Cybersecurity experts can also create a risk-aware mindset by educating employees and encouraging the team to ensure the network is safe.
Who Should Know About Medical Data Protection?
Healthcare IT security faces growing cyber threats that could affect patients. Hospital C-suite executives and senior management should not consider cybersecurity as a technical issue only their IT departments can solve. Instead, the hospital's enterprise, risk management, governance, and business structures must embrace cybersecurity as a strategic priority for patient safety and company risk. Below mentioned are some of the Healthcare stakeholders who should prioritize data protection:
Patients need to know how to talk to their healthcare workers securely. With Healthcare becoming easy to access, patients speak to their healthcare providers online through telehealth, online consultations, secure messaging, or video calls. In this case, they need to know the privacy and security rules so they know that their information is safe and private.
Healthcare organizations now have a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) in charge of the cybersecurity program and its decisions. Most of the time, CISOs work on strategy, while the people on their team carry out the processes. To ensure proper implication of protocols and unbiased decision-making, the C-Suite of the healthcare organization needs to be aware of medical data protection.
3. Healthcare Workers
The people working for a healthcare organization must know about data privacy and security rules. Regular security awareness training is essential for healthcare cybersecurity so that employees are aware of threats and know what to do if a security breach happens. Workforce members also need to know who to contact if they have questions or problems.
4. Vendors/Market Suppliers
Some companies have pretty good protection programs for healthcare. They also depend on tens of thousands of suppliers. If these providers have weak security policies phishing or other methods could be used to break into the healthcare organization if a vendor's credentials are stolen, or an account is exposed. Therefore, they too play a crucial role in the Healthcare supply chain needing a sturdy data protection system.
For What Reason Do Cyberattacks Target the Healthcare Sector?
There are many reasons why healthcare organizations are easy pickings for cybercriminals:
These organizations can access private and valuable information, such as medical records and credit card numbers.
An adversary who gains access to this information can profitably resell it or hold it until a ransom is paid.
Security threats are becoming increasingly widespread for healthcare organizations as well.
Thanks to the proliferation of networked medical devices, attackers now have more ways to target healthcare facilities and their patients.
Types of Cyberattacks Common in the Healthcare Industry
Because of the nature of medical data, cybersecurity in healthcare has become a unique problem. The fact that many networks and digital systems exist in a clinic or hospital, such as EHRs, e-prescribing, decision support systems, clever heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), infusion pumps, medical Internet of Things (IoMT) devices, etc. Cybercriminals can pose a threat to all of them.
Healthcare providers and their business partners must also protect patient privacy, give great care, and follow HIPAA, GDPR, and other rules in their digital ecosystem. It makes it harder to put in place security measures, and hackers are quick to take advantage of this.
Experts from Deloitte and other cybersecurity consultants agree that the following threats pose the greatest danger to hospitals and other medical facilities today:
Phishing: Malware is often spread across the clinical network after being downloaded from infected links or attachments in phishing emails, social media posts, or text messages.
MITM Attacks (man-in-the-middle attacks): Cybercriminals eavesdrop on private conversations or intercept data transfers to steal sensitive user information, resulting in heavy financial losses and legal repercussions.
Lockdown Software: In addition, to encrypting data and demanding a ransom to decrypt it, criminals are blocking access to the entire clinical system, rendering surgical and life-support devices inoperable.
Ransomware: This is malware that gets installed on a computer and holds it until the user pays a ransom to get it back. The user can't use any of their programs or access their files, with no control over the computer. A ransomware attack in a hospital can stop important computers from working, putting patients' lives at risk.
Data Breaches: Stealing credentials causing data breaches through malware is a highly prevalent data theft. It lets the attacker steal and misuse private data they find in the system.
DDoS Attacks: A popular way to do a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is to flood a website with fake requests. The server is set up to answer these calls, which uses up some of its resources. Because of this, it can't give real users access and functions. Along with scams, DDoS attacks are a common way for hackers and cybercriminals to overload a network to the point where it can't work.
Inside Threats: Employees may encompass an array of vulnerabilities. Some people may click on malicious links without realizing it, letting malware into the system. Some people may give out entry codes that attackers use to get in. Multi-factor authentication (MFA), which needs multiple credentials before letting someone in, can reduce insider threats.
Tips for Securing Private Health Data
Data security in the healthcare sector is a complex issue. HIPAA and other rules, such as the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), place strict rules for healthcare providers and their business associates. These guidelines for healthcare providers and other organizations that handle, use, or transmit patient information include stringent data protection requirements with hefty penalties and fines if they are not met. Health information is sensitive private data hence its protection needs to be smart and have many layers. Some of the ways to protect healthcare data are as follows:
1. Educate Healthcare Staff
Staff training is an integral part of any hospital cybersecurity plan. IBM says that human mistakes cause 23% of all data breaches. New hardware and software security options are used in healthcare. So, everyone needs to understand what they can do to keep data safe.
Social engineering techniques like phishing and spoofing exploit users' lack of security knowledge to get around your system's controls. With mandatory cybersecurity training, all workers know what they need to do to keep the methods and data of the organization safe. It helps them stay aware of the most common ways hackers try to get into their systems and what they can do to stop them.
2. Recovery of Data
Some cyberattacks aim to steal confidential information. Others are primarily annoying, like a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) or a virus attack. But even if a DDoS or malware attack doesn't try to steal your information directly, it can still mess up your data and make it useless. Losing data is much worse than having unauthorized people look at it. It damages your image and can stop your business from running. In case, your production tools stop working all you need to do is to set up a secure way to get your data back. This will make sure that your data is still safe, and this is where cybersecurity paves its way.
3. Implementing Data Usage Controls
Protective data controls extend beyond the advantages of access controls and monitoring to ensure that hazardous or malicious data activity can be identified and/or blocked in real time. Using data controls, healthcare organizations can prevent certain actions involving sensitive data, such as web uploads, unauthorized email transmissions, transferring to external drives, and printing. Data discovery and classification play a crucial supporting role in this process by ensuring that sensitive data can be identified and labeled so that it receives the appropriate level of protection.
4. Restrict User Access
Users granted access to sensitive and crucial data should be limited to viewing just the material essential to their roles. Healthcare providers, for instance, should follow a policy that only authorized individuals can access a patient's electronic health records via a clinical portal. And their permissions should be evaluated regularly. Additionally, the system should use access control lists and multi-factor authentication (MFA) for administrator access.
5. Protecting Mobile Equipment
Healthcare providers and healthcare businesses increasingly rely on mobile devices, whether a doctor using a tablet to look up patient records or an insurance claims processor using a smartphone. Mobile device security states a wide range of measures, such as:
Controlling everything from devices to software to network settings.
Enforcing the usage of strong passwords.
Allowing for the locking and wiping of stolen or misplaced devices at a distance.
Application data encryption.
Keeping an eye on inboxes and attachments for signs of malware or attempted data theft.
Improving mobile device security through user education.
Guidelines or listing policies can be implemented to ensure that only secured apps that fulfill certain criteria can be installed.
Have consumers comply with mandatory updates to their device's operating system and software.
It is very crucial to develop a mobile application for hospitals or should mandatorily have any other forms of mobile security software to protect their patient information.
Now, you have understood the importance of cybersecurity in healthcare. Cybersecurity is one of the things that keeps website managers up at night. The problem is made worse in the healthcare business because it deals with sensitive data and important information. The reason is that there are more and more cyberattacks every year, and you need to be aware of these if you want to stay active in the field for a long time.
Healthcare workers must learn more and prepare for cybersecurity. To reduce security risks one must be aware, alert, and act quickly. Also, utilizing AI in your cybersecurity measures, you'll get a lot out of it and help build a strong healthcare environment.