Cyber criminals typically have predictable objectives, and they often use predictable methods, too. Most of them seek to exploit sensitive data for financial gain by gaining unauthorized access to this data. Unfortunately, this knowledge hasn’t done much to prevent cyber attacks. Instead, it has created a predictable target: healthcare facilities. Why has healthcare become such a target for cyber-attackers, and what can be done to mitigate the problem?
Sensitive Patient Information
The wealth of sensitive patient information is the first and most important reason why a healthcare facility might be targeted for a cyber attack. Remember that every patient who receives care must submit documents including their name, date of birth, address, and social security number. If this data falls into the wrong hands, it could be quite valuable. Cyber-attackers are thus motivated to launch attacks and target this data. Limiting access to patient data and encrypting files with sensitive information can prevent unauthorized access.
Many Routes of Access
In addition to the wealth of data, cyber-criminals often find that there are many points of digital entry that they can exploit when staging an attack. Most of the computers in a healthcare facility utilize multiple software applications, and each of these is liable to have its own vulnerabilities, allowing a cyber criminal to attack easily. Some medical devices that are WiFi enabled may also be vulnerable to hacking, which can put healthcare facilities at risk of a massive ransomware attack. To secure the network, facilities should ensure that their firewall is active and their routers are running on up-to-date firmware.
Ignorance Among Staff
Healthcare professionals are incredibly skilled at providing care and treatment to their patients. Most of them, however, are not skilled in the intricacies of IT. This lack of knowledge can make facilities even more vulnerable to the efforts of cyber-attackers, and it’s important that staff receive training that covers important cybersecurity principles. Educating facility employees about basic healthcare cybersecurity can make a big difference. These efforts should focus on preventing common security vulnerabilities and identifying the warning signs that a cyberattack may be incoming.
Resistance to New Tech
While there have been many innovations in healthcare technology in the last few decades, some medical providers are resistant to new technology. This is just one of many cybersecurity problems in healthcare. Luckily, there are many new medical devices that offer improved healthcare cybersecurity, but if providers do not want to use them, all of the potential benefits are lost. Similarly, some staff are resistant to the implementation of authentication requirements and other measures that may improve security. In order to overcome any lingering doubts, healthcare providers should be reminded that new technology and protocol will ultimately protect patients.