The Rising Cyber Risks in the Healthcare Sector & How You Can Stay Protected

It’s not shocking that there has been a recent sharp increase in healthcare industry cyberattacks.

Opportunistic hackers are significantly targeting medical records. Hospitals store large amounts of patient data, this confidential data is worth a fortune to hackers who easily sell it on the dark web, making healthcare a growing target for cyberattacks.

 

CYBER RISKS IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR

Medical devices are the latest entry points for hackers who launch attacks on servers and access valuable information. In worst cases, medical devices may even be remotely controlled by hackers preventing healthcare providers from dispensing life-saving treatments to target patients.

Apart from threatening the normal working of the healthcare industry, the increased susceptibility of the healthcare sector to online attacks is also compromising confidential patient data accessed by hackers who then sell it, making the sector a major target for cyberattacks.

Outdated medical technology has left the healthcare industry unprepared for cyberattacks. This has been partly due to hesitance to learn new systems and limited budgets. Effective cybersecurity solutions regulate user accessibility without exposing confidential patient data to infiltration.

Healthcare staff connecting to their work network remotely on unsecured devices exposes the whole organization to the risk of cyberattacks and unauthorized intrusion by malicious hackers.

 

CYBERCRIME RISES DURING THE PANDEMIC

The annual reports by Bitglass indicate a 55.1% rise in healthcare breaches in less than one year, with the year 2020 being the most severe, accounting for an estimated 26 million patient records being exposed to unauthorized external parties. This was mostly fueled by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has aggravated the situation, expanded the scope of the risk and target list, and put forward many basic weaknesses that stakeholders have ignored.

 

TIPS FOR INSTITUTIONS & INDIVIDUALS TO STAY PROTECTED

Proper employee training

Equipping your employees with adequate training and information about the latest online threats and prevention measures is a great step towards limiting the possible chance of hackers launching an online attack against your organization.

Protect your computers and laptops

Devices and operating systems interconnected software like web browsers and email programs require to be updated regularly. Installing a firewall and antivirus software helps your device to identify malicious software and protects you against the latest cybersecurity threats. Research widely before installing any random software to protect yourself against downloading scam programs containing malware.

Encrypt and maintain a backup of your data

When your information is compromised, having a backup in place gives you peace of mind since you can retrieve your data anytime. Encryption hides your data from easier accessibility by hackers.

Use a VPN

Using a VPN for security is one of the best ways to prevent cyber-criminals from accessing your server system. A VPN will encrypt your sensitive data from cybercriminals and other bad actors on the internet, keeping you and your organization protected.

Disable idle connections

Turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections when you are not using them. This will protect your device against infiltration by unknown persons without your consent.

Delete suspicious email

Delete spam emails without opening them. If you receive a dubious-looking email from a trusted person, verify from their end if they sent it before clicking any link or attachment.

Use secure devices

Try to access online accounts from your devices while using a secured internet connection. Limit access to your accounts using public computers that might be infected with spyware.

Create strong passwords

Change your passwords frequently; strong passwords of at least 12 characters with numbers and symbols may be unpredictable for hackers to access.

 

Just like any other industry that benefits from technology to better its services, the healthcare sector is prone to cyberattacks. However, there are things you can do to minimize the risk of being hacked. Use the above tips to protect yourself and your organization against cyber risks.

 

Security Posters
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Written by Chris Jones

Chris is with TurnOnVPN, an advocacy group aiming to promote a safe and free internet for everyone.

June 1, 2021

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