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Cyber Security Challenges in the Healthcare Sector

Digital health has become central to the sector. This applies to all activities, from patient admission to prescription management to monitoring the physical environment. In this context, cyber security risks have also become widespread. Conducting a safety audit helps to make a solid assessment of the risks for each health sector organization or company.

The healthcare industry has consistently been a tempting target for cyber-criminals. From high-value patient data to low tolerance for downtime that can havoc on patient care, cyber-criminals still abuse healthcare cyber-security practices. Over the last few years, the healthcare industry has witnessed an escalation of 55% in cyber-security threats, resulting in attacks on healthcare providers into a $13.2 billion industry and making it a treasure trove for cyber-criminals.

Watch below video for Biggest Cyber Attacks in the World

As the healthcare sector holds life-critical services while working to enhance treatment and patient care with new technologies, criminals and cyber threat actors attempt to harness vulnerabilities combined with these changes.

The healthcare industry is afflicted by gazillions of problems linked to Cyber Security such as malware that mitigates system integrity and patient privacy and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that undermines the ability to extend patient care.

For professionals in the healthcare sector, obviating security breaches in information systems calls for a multi-pronged approach. Cyber attacks can come from many sources, both inside and outside the organization. The cue to advancing your healthcare Cyber Security is knowledge—you need to be aware of the threats out there. Keep reading for an overview of the top health cyber security issues that you need to be able to tackle effectively.

A Bit of Fact:
IBM reports that data breaches cost healthcare organizations an average of $7.13 million in its 2020 report.

Cyber criminals aim at healthcare industries for it is a thriving industry, and the data they appropriate can be used or sold for numerous purposes. And this is just one scenario. Healthcare data can be used for many other purposes like blackmailing or phishing patients, buying prescription drugs, creating fake insurance claims, etc.

Before Health section you can also read “Cyber Security Challenges in the Banking Sector

Top 5 Cyber Security Challenges Faced by the Healthcare Industry

1. Malware and Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware that infects devices, systems and files unless an amount is paid by the victim organization to the cyber-criminal. The most common ransomware attacks are triggered by clicking on a malicious link, viewing an ad with malware, or a phishing email containing a malicious attachment.

Falling innocently into these traps can cost your organization a lot of time and money. When ransomware infects your network, critical operations and processes slow down or become inactive until a ransom is paid to the threat person. Ultimately, it sucks up money that could otherwise have been used to invest in new technology or improve the standard of patient care.

Such aggrieved organizations have not left out even a meagre amount. In 2020, the average ransom paid by US organizations from ransomware attacks was $847,344 but reached the astronomical $10 million figure. The threats of extortion later in these numbers are also ignored.

Ransomware attacks are usually caused by Trojan viruses that infect computers through phishing emails when the user clicks on a link or downloads an attachment. That’s why it’s extremely important to train healthcare workers on secure email and Internet use. Many successful ransomware attacks could have been avoided if an employee simply clicked delete.

2. Data Breaches

The healthcare sector is confronted with more data breaches when compared to any other industry. With healthcare impacted by an average of 2.8 million breaches per month in the past year, proper equipment management and monitoring are needed, as well as the protection of sensitive information equally important to providing medical care for patients.

The problem is that although there are legally mandated requirements from HIPPA, most organizations do not have up-to-date security measures, protocols, and the resources to stay informed with a knowledgeable IT department. This provides an open opportunity for cybercriminals to gain easy access to patients’ Social Security numbers, contact information, prescriptions, and test results that can cause reputational issues for your organization and trouble for your patients.

The black market for Protected Health Information (PHI) is quite active. PHI, as in, is the spectrum of personally identifiable data relating to a patient, including diagnoses, test results and prescriptions, as well as contact information and Social Security numbers.

This data is particularly appealing to hackers because, unlike stolen credit card numbers, patients’ personal histories cannot be easily removed or locked down. Once hackers have confiscated this information, they can use it to obtain loans, purchase drugs, file an insurance claim, or establish lines of credit under other people’s identities.

3. Internal Threats

Insider threats are precisely why data encryption and zero-trust access strategies are critical to protecting sensitive patient information and data security. While this is a troubling thought, not all cyber security incidents are traced to employee negligence.

With so much attention and funding surrounding Cyber Security in the healthcare industry, disgruntled workers may decide to purposefully disclose patient information despite black-market demand for secure health information (PHI). Since employees may have knowledge of network setup, vulnerabilities and access codes, employees with malicious intent hold the key to exposing your organization to a range of threats.

Many Cyber Security incidents can be detected as laxity on the part of an employee or the entire organization, although some cases are not accidents. Sometimes an employee of a healthcare organization decides to take advantage of black market demand for PHI—such as a disgruntled employee only to sabotage the company’s computer system.

4. Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attacks

A DDoS attack is an attempt to flood an organization’s network with Internet traffic so much that it cannot function or perform normally. These attacks are usually carried out in conjunction with a botnet or ransomware attempt, which work to overwhelm a network by sending huge amounts of data from millions of hacked computers. Like other cybersecurity challenges, DDoS attacks are particularly harmful to healthcare providers, who need access to networks to provide appropriate patient care, send and receive emails, fill prescriptions, access records, and obtain information. it occurs.

5. Cloud Danger

Many healthcare providers are switching to cloud-based data storage solutions because of the simplicity of data retrieval and the increased security around patient information. Alas, not every cloud-based solutions are HIPAA compliant. In demand platforms such as Dropbox and Amazon Web Services do not fulfil data protection, privacy or sovereignty HIPAA requirement, making it easy pie for hackers to hack.

In addition, some organizations may not encrypt data before sending it to the cloud, which can also create room for intrusions. To avoid this, organizations should use a private cloud or an on-premises data centre that is regularly responsible for securing and encrypting data.

Generally, ransomware gain access to victims machines through:

  • Phishing emails containing malicious attachments
  • A user clicking a malicious link
  • Viewing or abusing ads containing malware

Persistently evolving variants and strategies, techniques and processes (TTPs) prevent security experts from being up to date in obstructing attacks. Moreover, platforms such as Ransomware as a Service make it simple for anyone with little or no technical skill to propel ransomware attacks against victims of their choice.

How do these Cyber-Security issues arise?

  • When employees don’t know how to identify phishing emails.
  • Download email attachments without scanning them with strong antivirus software first.
  • Can’t differentiate between a fake website and a legitimate website.
  • Click on Malware and inadvertently install malware on computers connected to their organization’s network.
  • Do not update or patch their devices.
  • Don’t know how to recognize the signs of malware infection, or don’t take issues seriously until it’s too late.
  • Set a weak user ID and password.
  • Lose hardware devices such as laptops, or USB drives.
  • Do not completely wipe the memory when disposing of or reselling the device.

Let’s Wrap up

Activities such as sealing down medical equipment, faltering hospital scheduling and operations, and encrypting, reshaping, or effacing critical patients’ data are always that can discredit patients critically needed treatment. There is a grey area as to whether cyber criminals can be held responsible if someone loses their life due to such attacks.

The Healthcare industry is the heart of our life, and proper conduct and functioning of it are indispensable for the community in small and the world as a whole. The industry will definitely need to upgrade its security systems and safeguard sensitive information that if lost could cost plenty of money and even reputation!

Ethical hacking is a subset of cyber security, which is a wide area with several divisions and domains. SKILLOGIC is a renowned international IT solutions provider and a professional certification training firm in India. SKILLOGIC is accredited from ICFQ and EC Council for cyber security and Ethical Hacking Certification Courses. Enroll now!

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