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Top 5 Cybersecurity Challenges
Facing the Healthcare Sector

Cybersecurity

Technology has greatly influenced the healthcare sector in the modern age, transforming it into a digitized industry. It has resulted in greater efficiency, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness in several healthcare processes. However, while technology is a great step towards better patient outcomes, it has its fair share of drawbacks. The wide use of technology within the healthcare industry has made it a major target for cybercriminals. After all, cybercriminals would never miss an opportunity to exploit the vast financial resources of the healthcare sector.

But what’s worse is that cybercriminals are not only causing financial damage but are also putting patients at risk by disrupting processes and stealing or destroying patient data. Therefore, it’s crucial to prevent cybersecurity threats faced by the healthcare sector by being aware of them. To help you with this purpose, here are the top five cybersecurity challenges the healthcare sector faces today...

Internal threats

Cybersecurity challenges within the healthcare sector arise not only from external sources but also from internal ones. Cybercriminals are clever enough to exploit technologically inexperienced healthcare employees and trick them into giving away sensitive information. For example, phishing is a common technique of sending fake emails to access private information such as credentials. However, several other methods come under social engineering attacks, such as baiting, pretexting, and scareware. But alongside social engineering attacks, insider threats also involve employees with malicious intent that seek to cause harm to healthcare facilities. So, to avoid such challenges, it’s crucial to implement a foolproof authorization system and data encryption methods.

However, even after failsafe security systems, internal threats can still arise. For this reason, it’s imperative to hire cybersecurity or IT experts. Look for individuals with an MBA degree in Healthcare Information Systems to protect your healthcare facility and the patients. Alongside strengthening your healthcare information systems, these professionals will train staff members against cybersecurity issues.

Data theft

Since the digitization of the healthcare industry, data regarding patients and professionals are now stored electronically. While some of the data is publicly available, patient data, including social security numbers, contact information, etc., should remain confidential. Unfortunately, such data is valuable not only to healthcare facilities but also to cybercriminals.

Once stolen, hackers can use patient data for illegal purposes such as purchasing medication and obtaining loans on behalf of someone else. More importantly, cybercriminals can also delete or destroy valuable patient data to disrupt healthcare processes. As a result, data theft has become a serious cybersecurity issue in the healthcare sector. With the popularity of cloud computing in the healthcare sector, data theft will only continue to increase, as such technology can be more vulnerable to attacks. But healthcare organizations can avoid data theft by implementing an effective cybersecurity plan. Maintaining data in a backup location can be immensely helpful, as your healthcare facility can restore lost or stolen data if an accident occurs. However, to stop stolen data from being used in illegal activities, it’s crucial to implement authentication systems, preferably multifactor authentication.

Ransomware

The healthcare sector has evolved into a wealthy industry over the years. The worth of the global healthcare market will reach around $665 billion by the year 2028. While the growing revenue of the healthcare sector is a significant accomplishment, it is also a matter of concern. Cybercriminals specifically target wealthy industries to exploit them for financial resources. In 2020, 560 healthcare facilities were victims of ransomware. Such malware can lock access to private data until a large sum is paid in ransom.

What’s worse is that even after paying large amounts of money, healthcare facilities fail to get their data back as it’s ultimately destroyed or stolen. Therefore, to avoid such situations, installing anti-malware applications on your facility’s computer systems is essential. These applications can identify and isolate ransomware and protect against other malware applications. However, it’s equally important to keep anti-malware applications up to date. Else it’ll be challenging to defend against the latest malware.

DDoS attacks

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks aim to overwhelm a company’s network by increasing internet traffic to stop it from functioning properly. Consequently, every process using the company’s network will fail to execute. Since healthcare facilities excessively use the internet and internal networks, DDoS attacks have become quite common. And they are highly effective in causing damage through networks. A single DDoS attack can disrupt processes for hours until it’s fixed, leading to a loss of money due to downtime. On average, a DDoS attack costs up to $40000 per hour. Therefore, it’s crucial to implement security measures to mitigate DDoS attacks. Securing your healthcare facility’s network and hiring DDoS attack mitigation services are highly effective ways to do so.

Vulnerabilities of the IoMT

The internet of medical things, abbreviated ‘IoMT,’ refers to the wide collection of Wi-Fi-enabled devices used in the healthcare field to make healthcare more effective and accessible. Such devices can monitor patient conditions and collect data, among several other things. For example, smartwatches can monitor vital signs and send data to doctors for diagnosis. The adoption of the IoMT has led to a significant improvement in healthcare provision. But unfortunately, it has opened up new opportunities for cybercriminals as well.

While IoMT devices come with cutting-edge healthcare technology, most fall behind in security. As a result, cybercriminals can use them to fulfill their malicious intent through the internet. For example, a hacker can manipulate the data of a smartwatch, leading to incorrect treatments and threatening the life of a patient. On the other hand, IoMT devices can also be exploited to send malware into systems and steal data. The best way to avoid cybersecurity threats from IoMT devices is by using only the most secure devices. But keeping the firmware and software of such devices up-to-date holds equal importance.

Conclusion

The modern healthcare sector is largely dependent on advanced technology to perform several operations. From data collection to analysis and treatments, all use healthcare technology and advanced systems. While this makes the healthcare industry a significant target for cybercriminals, avoiding the use of technology is not the solution. Instead, it’s better to face the cybersecurity challenges by making yourself aware of them. It’s crucial to devise and implement strong cybersecurity plans alongside aligning routine work and employees.


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