Emerging technologies and digital transformation have been a boon for the healthcare industry by enhancing how medical and dental professionals deliver their services. These technologies have given birth to faster and more efficient systems and software, including electronic health records (EHR), scheduling, e-prescriptions and telemedicine, improving outcomes for both patients and healthcare professionals.
On the flipside, increased use of web and mobile applications and interconnected systems and devices places confidential patient data is at greater risk. According to Black Book Research, a healthcare-centric market research company:
More than 93% of organizations have faced data breaches, and 57% have experienced more than 5 breaches, since Q3 2016.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, where patients are communicating with online professionals over the internet, even more devices are vulnerable to intrusion. This alarming rate of cyber-attacks has put healthcare on the list of one of the top 5 industries at risk from cyber threats.
What makes healthcare such a lucrative industry for hackers? More importantly, how can you secure and protect your organization against unknown vulnerabilities and attacks? These are the two questions we’ll be addressing in this blog, as clinics or hospitals require not just a remedy but also sound knowledge for preventing attacks in the first place.
Why Are Health Records So Valuable?
Hackers are drawn to the healthcare industry, but what’s the reason?
- Valuable information: Clinics and hospitals collect and store detailed patient information, including their IDs, social security number, date of birth, address, payment, and account information, which are highly valuable to identity thieves.
Hackers can also use this information to create identical personas, used as part of drug and/or prescription abuse. Experts believe the damage done due to data breaches in healthcare is more costly than credit card thefts or bank frauds.
- Ease of attack: Ransomware attacks are one of the most common types of attack. Plus, any person with relatively little technical knowledge can conduct ransomware attacks, exploiting sensitive data and ruining an organizations’ reputation.
- High value on the dark web: Finally, the value of healthcare records has soared as compared to other industries, giving attackers a strong motive. By setting traps like malicious links in emails, hackers can steal sensitive information for hefty returns.
Some of the most common attacks in hospitals and clinics are DDoS, malware, credential theft, and application intrusion, among others. Legacy systems, little to no training for employees and inadequate security infrastructure are some of the most common sources of vulnerability, providing numerous attack vectors for hackers to exploit.
How Can You Safeguard Your Patient Information?
If you’re wondering whether there’s a remedy, we have some good news.
Despite easy access to information, increased vulnerabilities and human errors, here are some steps your organization can take to mitigate risks and protect sensitive and confidential information from the prying eyes of hackers.
1. SSL Technology
When data travels between servers and users, it is an attractive target for attackers to exploit. However, if it’s encrypted with the help of secure sockets layer (SSL), attackers cannot use the information, even if they get a hold of it. Encrypting data is integral to preventing data leaks and attacks.
2. Securing Mobile Devices
Mobile devices host a myriad of health-related information and can cause severe damage when stolen or lost. To prevent hackers from misusing sensitive patient information and treatment details, make sure to:
- Opt for the use of strong passwords
- Encrypt application data
- Embrace best practices on securing mobile devices
3. Educate Employees
Staff can fall into a trap laid by attackers simply by going about their daily routine. A simple human error can cause exorbitant damage to businesses, errors such as clicking malicious links in emails are among the most common types of attacks.
Therefore, providing training on the importance of patient data and how to take preventive measures to stay clear of cyberattacks goes a long way. It also helps to equip employees with the right information on handling patient and other information to prevent common mistakes.
4. Embrace a Holistic Approach to Network Security
Solutions including SSL intercept, web application firewalls, DDoS prevention and app delivery solutions with strong SSL encryption can not only save your data but also catch vulnerabilities ahead of time so your organization can take steps to mitigate them. Opt for one or more of these solutions according to your requirements and infuse them into your security strategy.
Healthcare has been in the limelight for cyberattacks and is grappling with threats that come with embracing advancing technology. However, the solution to these threats and attacks is somewhat simpler if steps are taken well in advance. As they say: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To understand which security solutions are recommended for your healthcare organization, reach out to the experts at Array Networks today.