Since the advent of the pandemic, the healthcare sector has become a favorite target of cybercriminals. There have been more cyber attacks in the healthcare sector than in any other sector in the last 3 years. In this blog, we will dwell upon some serious cyber attacks that have raised the importance of cybersecurity in the healthcare sector.
According to Techjury, 30% of all big data breaches occur in healthcare institutions, of which 6% are pediatric hospitals.
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Why Do We Need Cybersecurity in the Healthcare Sector?
With the rising number of attacks in the healthcare sector, many electronic and computing devices have become vulnerable. Healthcare institutions have hospital information systems such as e-prescribing systems, radiology information systems, practice management support systems, EHR systems, clinical decision support systems, and computerized physician order entry systems. These systems are prone to network vulnerabilities or employee negligence that could lead to breaches and compromises.
In addition to the major devices mentioned above, there are numerous IoT devices used as ventilation, ACs, smart elevators, etc. In absence of cybersecurity measures, these devices are vulnerable and unprotected. And most importantly, that breach in the healthcare sector has occurred majorly due to employee unawareness.
According to pheonixNAP, the cost of a breach in the healthcare sector will rise up to $6 trillion dollars.
The growing number of cyber attacks on healthcare institutions is an indicator of health providers falling victim to cybercriminals. That’s why healthcare institutions need to incorporate effective cyber defense strategies.
Notable Cyber Attacks in Healthcare Sector
It’s widely believed that in 2021, the healthcare industry will continue to be the most targeted industry by cybercriminals. Below are listed some of the latest attacks and statistics of cyber attacks in the healthcare sector are:
- According to an article, 45 million people in 2021 and 34 million people in 2020 were affected by cyber attacks in the healthcare sector.
- According to HIPAA Journal, the average cost of a data breach in the healthcare sector has increased from $408 per record to $429 per record that has been compromised.
- Digital Guardian published an article where they stated that 24% of the physicians in healthcare organizations couldn’t identify common signs of malware.
- According to the Journal of Computer Security, the prominent cause of data breach is employee negligence which is twice the number of attacks led by malicious vectors.
- Most healthcare organizations spend less than 6% of their annual budget on cybersecurity. (Source: Healthcare IT News)
How to Prevent Cyber Attacks in Healthcare Institutions?
With the various types of global medical issues expected to continue into the coming future, it is quite probable that the healthcare industry will continuously be hounded by several cyber threats. These medical issues create a sense of panic among the people, which is exploited by threat actors. Cyber attacks on healthcare institutions can lead to problems beyond breach of privacy and financial loss, as they can cause damage to patients. It also risks the reputation of the organization and disrupts the trust of people.
Therefore, it has become essential for these institutions to take the necessary precautions and get ahead of threats. The following are a few effective cyber security measures that can offer protection against the cyber threats plaguing the healthcare industry:
Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Multi-factor Authentication is an additional layer of security over and above passwords. However, one must also know how to keep their password safe from hackers to prevent credential theft. The implementation of MFA should be done on all the applicable endpoints across the enterprise networks. It is an effective way to get rid of some of the most disastrous vulnerabilities like credential thefts. According to a report by Microsoft, enabling MFA can block over 99.9% of all automated account compromise attacks. Several millions of credentials get stolen and sold over the dark web. To prevent such exposure of credentials, one must employ MFA as their fundamental security policy. This applies not just to the healthcare industry but everywhere else.
Cybercriminals often exploit unpatched vulnerabilities in the IT infrastructure of the target organization to land their cyber attack successfully. Hence, it is imperative to make sure that all the security patches are updated regularly. Overlooking even a minuscule vulnerability in your organization’s security framework can have severe ramifications. Conducting periodic Vulnerability Assessments and Penetration Testing can significantly help you keep your company’s IT infrastructure free from any weaknesses, mitigating the risk of suffering a cyber attack.
Educating your staff about cyber risks and the ways to mitigate them is one of the most effective ways to meet the challenges posed by the current cyber threat landscape. If every individual on staff is vigilant enough, it will be difficult for the threat actors to find an opening for an attack. Organizations can use innovative cyber security awareness tools like Threatcop security awareness training to train employees in the art of avoiding cyber attacks.
Backup Storage and Restoration
The best way to minimize the damage caused by a cyber attack is to employ backup, offline storage, and restoration. This standard security protocol is especially effective against ransomware attacks. If you are unable to prevent a cyber attack from hitting its mark in the first place, it is essential to have a plan. The next best course of action is to ensure that you have a reliable offline storage and restoration option.