CyberSecurity Threats in Healthcare

CyberSecurity Threats in Healthcare

Cybersecurity threats in healthcare are a growing concern as the industry increasingly relies on digital technologies to manage patient data, streamline operations, and enhance patient care.

In what scenario would you be willing to answer invasive and personal questions without thinking twice? That’s right, at a doctor’s appointment. Doctors are there to help you when you’re not feeling well. So, of course you’ll answer any questions they have honestly and without thinking about it because they’re trustworthy right? Well, yes, they are, but that doesn’t mean that this information can’t be accessed by untrustworthy people. There are many cyberSecurity threats in healthcare, and with the most data breaches occurring in this sector, the healthcare industry is the worst at protecting your information.

Of course, the doctors and nurses care about your well-being, and this is precisely why your personal information is not as secured as you’d like it to be due to cyberSecurity threats in healthcare. The healthcare sector primarily focuses on patient care and, in turn, forgoes investing in top notch healthcare cybersecurity protection. The healthcare sector invests only 4-7% of revenue in cybersecurity, while the financial sector invests around 15%. This situation should not prevail, as a cyberattack on a healthcare facility carries the most perilous consequences. Why? Because your livelihood is at stake.

Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

What’s worse is that the healthcare industry is the most targeted by cybersecurity threats. Your information is a gold mine for bad actors. Think about all the fun they can have. Not only can they steal your identity, but with your Personal Health Information (PHI) malicious actors can make fake insurance claims, take advantage of any of your medical conditions or medical settlements, and purchase medication with your prescriptions. As such, PHI is valued at $363 on the black market, compared to that of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) which sells at around $2. Clearly, the healthcare industry is an attractive target for attackers. Additionally, their poor protection makes carrying out a hardware attack even more appealing.

Malware might cause these data breaches, but malicious software isn’t limited to only that form of damage. It can also trigger operational disruption which hinders productivity. Another type of attack included in the list of healthcare cybersecurity threats is a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, which causes the server to be unable to operate. For some businesses this might be extremely annoying and frustrating, but, for the healthcare industry, this can be fatal. This is due to the fact that a lot of critical medical equipment today are actually a computer. Additionally, patient records, laboratory results, hospital elevators and more rely on technology and a DDoS attack can implicate them, too.

CyberSecurity Threats in Healthcare: Ransomware

The healthcare industry is also no stranger to ransomware attacks. Hospitals especially, due to their large assets, are frequently targeted. These attacks prevent flies and systems from being accessed until a payment is made. And these aren’t minor payments – attackers are greedy, with the average paid ransom by healthcare firms in 2018 being just under $30,000. Paying the ransom is actually not recommended as it only encourages more attacks of this type. However, whether you pay the ransom or not, there remains a risk that the data may never be recovered. The fact that the healthcare industry is so nonchalant about IoT in Healthcare security means that they are at serious risk.

This must come as a shock since doctors often make us feel safe and protected… their job is to save lives after all. So how do these attacks get carried out? Well, as mentioned, the healthcare industry does not prioritize cybersecurity. Of course, it is because they are prioritizing us, but we can’t be protected unless the industry is cyber protected. By prioritizing our well-being, healthcare employees lack the awareness of how risky cyberattacks are and how their actions can be the greatest cause of them. The healthcare industry is the worst offender when it comes to insider attacks, being the only industry where internal actors cause more breaches than external ones.

Insider CyberSecurity Threats in Healthcare

Yes, there might be employees acting with malicious intent (insider threats). However, the biggest CyberSecurity Threats in Healthcare come from the fact that employees do not even know they are increasing the organization’s vulnerability to an attack or even causing one themselves. Social engineering techniques are favored by bad actors and the lack of on-the-job training means that most of them fall straight into the trap. As a result, attackers can attach rogue links and websites to phishing emails that, when clicked, cause malware to download onto the endpoint.

How BYOD increases Cyber Security Threats in Healthcare

Moreover, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies increase the number of access points to the organization’s network. This of course increases the number of ways a perpetrator can carry out an attack. Additionally, the healthcare industry is becoming more accepting to Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Hospitals are now connecting many of the apparatus used within them to the internet. Many of them are vitally important to a patient’s well-being, such as heart monitors and infusion pumps. These connected healthcare devices provide more points of entry to the organization’s network and, if hacked, can be lethal. The increase in the amount of internet-connected devices also means possible exposure to IoT security vulnerabilities.

The proliferation of BYOD and IoT devices poses heightened cybersecurity threats in the healthcare sector. Insufficient security measures, coupled with a lack of cybersecurity awareness among insiders, contribute to an escalating risk scenario. The growing prevalence of BYOD and IoT devices facilitates the deployment of Rogue Devices by malicious actors, leading to potential data breaches, ransomware attacks, or DDoS incidents. The consequences of any of these attacks are extremely hazardous for the healthcare industry. It mostly impacts patient safety and the reputation of the organization… Not to mention the huge financial burden of remediating an attack. Because of the highly sensitive nature of data obtained by healthcare organizations, the fines imposed are often in the millions, in addition to millions spent on indirect costs over the years.

As such, the financial implications of a cyberattack are almost impossible to calculate. Of course, we should still trust doctors with saving our lives, but maybe you’ll think twice about telling them every detail; only the necessary ones.

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August 25th, 2020