3 Major Cybersecurity Challenges in Healthcare and How to Avoid Them

Updated on March 12, 2023
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The healthcare industry has always been a hunting ground for scammers and hackers. According to an IBM report, data breaches cost healthcare facilities $7.13 million in 2020. Judging by the sheer volume of confidential data a clinic or a hospital holds daily, protecting the network becomes crucial. Here are three of the most common cybersecurity threats healthcare is facing this year:

Ransomware threats

It’s easy to extort money from a hospital when you have their entire pool of sensitive patient information. Ransomware attacks steal confidential data and encrypt them behind a paywall. The healthcare facility has to shell out money, which is often in the thousands, to access and regain the information. 

These attacks rely on fast responses, putting hospital administration under extreme pressure. The hackers can also use the information to blackmail patients and their families. 

Openly accessible databases

Most healthcare facilities maintain patient check-ins and check-outs, med schedules, and treatment progress in an easily accessible database that can be cracked open. On top of that, most medical equipment doesn’t have security layers to keep it protected. 

For instance, using voice assistants in a patient’s room can give hackers new ways to snoop. If the internet of medical things (IoMT) isn’t end-to-end secured, hackers will definitely find a loophole to exploit. 

Phishing scams

Hospitals receive hundreds of emails every day. However, not every one of them contains patient or payment information. Some carry malicious files that are injected into the devices the moment an employee clicks on the attachment. 

Phishing scams are one of the oldest tricks in the book, but the way they’re growing in sophistication each year is alarming. Hackers may even create identical websites to manipulate people into providing their personal details. 

How to avoid cybersecurity challenges?

Avoiding most cybersecurity threats is easier than you think. 

1. Train employees: According to a Verizon report, insiders are responsible for 22% of cyber-attacks. Training and educating employees and helping them understand the difference between authentic digital assets and phishing attempts are crucial. They must also be encouraged to use strong passwords, and two-factor authentication and secure their devices under the BYOD program. If the workforce stays vigilant, it’ll help healthcare facilities stay secure in the long run.

2. Upgrade digital infrastructure: Most healthcare facilities don’t spend enough time or resources updating websites and databases and maintaining backup and disaster recovery plans. Many hospitals don’t even have documented security protocols in place. If you’re planning to protect your business from cyber threats, you must encrypt data and use blockchain technology to maintain a decentralized, secure ledger. You should also determine the most valuable assets and create a hierarchical access plan to keep away curious eyes. 

The state of cybersecurity in 2021 has grown drastically complex for the healthcare industry. If you’re planning to stay HIPAA compliant and avoid cyber attacks on hospitals, you must identify data leaks at the earliest or get in touch with a managed IT security service provider. 

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.