HealthTech is revolutionizing the healthcare sector. EHRs, telehealth, and IoT-operated medical devices, among others, are driving better patient experience, faster R&D, and improved procedures. Paradoxically, it is also putting the industry at risk of cyberattacks, making cybersecurity in healthcare a significant concern worldwide.
In 2022, healthcare cybersecurity breaches saw a 90% surge, each cyberattack costing $9.23 million, an increase of $2 million from 2021. A ransomware attack at Yuma Regional Medical Center in Arizona exposing the data of 700,000 patients, Scripps Research losing $112.7 million in a cyberattack, and a major data breach at North Broward Hospital in Florida impacting ~1.4 million patients’ data are some examples of costly incidents.
Is following HIPPA enough?
The sensitive data in possession of healthcare institutes make them a lucrative target for attackers. Healthcare organizations collect protected health information (PHI), personally identifying information (PII), financial information of credit cards, bank accounts used during transactions, medical research and innovation-related IP data.
For HIPAA compliance, healthcare institutes are bound to follow data security practices to ensure the sanctity and ethical use of the data. But following HIPAA is not enough. Ensuring cybersecurity in healthcare requires organizations to have a robust and updated security infrastructure.
Threats to cybersecurity in healthcare organizations
With technological advancements, cyber attackers use sophisticated methods to access this data. Some are:
Malware and Ransomware: Attackers use malware to hack into systems or networks and manipulate them. They use ransomware to encrypt data or hold the data for ransom.
Phishing websites/links: Phishing scams are one of the most common ways attackers use to steal information, hack accounts, and siphon money. Information security training, therefore, plays an integral part in preventing such attacks.
Cloud storage threats: A massive amount of data gets generated and stored in the cloud. Improperly encrypted PII and PHI data can lead to data breaches.
DoS, DDoS attacks: Hackers can make critical infrastructure inaccessible to authorized personnel by launching Denial of Service and Distributed Denial of Service attacks.
Strengthening cybersecurity in healthcare
Any security infrastructure is as strong as its weakest link. Cybersecurity in healthcare has many components; any vulnerability in any element can bring the system crashing. Here's how healthcare companies can strengthen their security posture:
Security risk analysis: Prevention is always better than cure. To be HIPAA compliant, healthcare companies must undertake regular security checks. Risk analysis will add a layer of extra protection. At Packetlabs, we help healthcare companies bolster their security posture through targeted penetration testing to identify weak links and keep data secure.
Regularly updating the IT infrastructure: Attackers use sophisticated and technologically advanced methods to breach the security cordon. Institutes must update and upgrade their IT infrastructure to blunt hackers. Hackers exploit old hardware or outdated software to mount attacks. Regular updates and patch management bolster security. A patch management policy can help ensure all departments regularly update their systems.
Principle of least privilege: As stated earlier, given the massive amount of healthcare-generated data, most organizations choose cloud systems for data storage. Encrypting the data is a great way to prevent data breaches. Additionally, following the least-privilege rule and keeping users on a need-to-know protocol can be an adequate safeguard against hackers.
Security training: A lot of security breaches happen due to human errors. A mandatory security training system will help educate employees about cybersecurity and ensure they do not fall prey to malicious websites and phishing links.
HIPAA compliance is not the only way to ensure data security in healthcare. Organizations must implement a comprehensive security infrastructure and follow good cybersecurity practices to protect themselves from sophisticated cyber threats.
Packetlabs can help you assess your organization’s cybersecurity posture and identify potential vulnerabilities. We offer targeted penetration testing services that can help you understand where vulnerabilities and gaps in security lie. Contact us for a no-obligation quote today.