In the 15+ years since healthcare began its earnest move to electronic health records, more automation, digital interfaces, and the Internet of Things, cyberattacks have increased and become more complex with each passing year. Healthcare mirrors society where we spend more time online in even the most minute situations. Everything is connected – including our most private and personal information – and that makes healthcare a prime target for cyberattacks.
Healthcare as an institution faces many challenges, but none are greater (more significant?) than cyberattacks. According to hipaajournal.com and the 2020 Healthcare Data Breach Report, healthcare breaches rose more than 55% in 2020, and approximately 24.1 million patient records were exposed to unauthorized parties because of cyberattacks.
Patient data is often a target for cyberattacks because of its value to patients – people want to keep their private information private – and the responsibility of the healthcare system - patients trust healthcare systems to protect their information. When data is stolen, the healthcare system is held at ransom before returning or relinquishing control of the data.
Healthcare is more susceptible to being a target for cyberattacks than most industries because of the amount and types of people interacting with information. Patients, clinicians, administrators, and outside vendors can all play a key role in providing access for bad actors. The best security technology in the world can only do so much when people add so much vulnerability.
But that’s the charge of healthcare security organizations like Optimum’s Trustpoint Technical Services team. Cyber threats are real, and hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on cyber attacks each year. Healthcare organizations are constantly asked to provide more automation, more technological advancements, and more innovation, providing more access points for attackers while also providing more security.
It’s a challenge for local healthcare IT resources to maintain, not to mention the need to educate the same patients, clinicians, administrators, and vendors that often cause the breaches. Local teams can succeed by partnering with proven resources that have been on the front lines, they’ve managed major incident responses, and have developed and implemented plans that minimize future risks.
Some consider the costs of evolving security measures to be prohibitive, but with so much at stake for hospitals and patients, healthcare systems can’t afford to go unprotected. Healthcare systems will remain a prime target for cyberattacks due to the nature of the business and the types of data they manage. It’s the nature of the beast. Healthcare systems must get serious and be intentional about their cybersecurity to protect themselves and their patients. The fact that we keep almost all of our personal information, including medical information online, will continue to make healthcare a prime target for cyberattacks.