Healthcare News & Insights

3 key cybersecurity threats hospitals will face this year

Cybersecurity has been a major focus for hospitals in recent years, due to high-profile data breaches and the migration of patient data to electronic health record (EHR) systems. As your organization continues to strengthen its IT security, there are new dangers and threats to plan for. 

Health care is one of the most vulnerable industries for cyberattacks, due to the sheer amount of personal data exchanged on a daily basis. Because of this, your systems and IT staffers need to be prepared for possible breaches and attacks.

A recent report from Symantec on 2018’s significant Internet security threats highlights the vulnerabilities healthcare facilities face.

The three key attacks your hospital should be aware of are:

  1. software supply chain attacks
  2. Internet of Things (IoT) attacks, and
  3. ransomware attacks.

If you’re not an IT pro, this may sound like nonsense, but understanding these kinds of attacks and putting your IT department on alert to stop them will help improve your facility’s security.

Protecting the supply chain

Software supply chain attacks aren’t directly focused on the hospital itself. Rather, they look for a back-door vulnerability in a third-party vendor or partner with systems connected to the hospital.

These attacks aren’t a new phenomenon by any means, but they are becoming more significant and frequent.

Symantec’s 2018 Internet Security Threat Report found a 200% increase in supply chain attacks across all industry sectors in 2017, and they’ll likely continue in the next year.

Be sure to thoroughly vet all vendors’ cybersecurity plans to make sure they have a strong commitment to safety.

Internet of Things & ransomware

More and more nontraditional devices are connected to the internet, which means devices that don’t have the highest levels of security – like HVAC systems or medical devices – are often tapped into hospital networks.

Since IoT devices can often be attacked more easily than an entire hospital network, hackers may choose to shut them down instead, with potentially deadly consequences.

Destabilizing medical devices, water systems or air conditioning doesn’t just make patients uncomfortable. It can kill them or make their health worse, which is why protecting these systems must be a priority for hospitals.

Another priority: Ransomware. Chances are, you’ve heard a lot about ransomware attacks like WannaCry. Not limited to health care, these attacks are some of the most common cyberattacks – and they can have the biggest impact on patients and providers.

Because healthcare data is so sensitive, and hospital systems must be restored quickly due to the high-risk nature of care, ransomware attacks are more prevalent (and more costly) in this industry than in other fields.

Plus, ransomware attacks compromise significant portions of protected health data, which can decrease patients’ trust in your facility.

Keeping a close eye on these areas in your cybersecurity plan must be a priority for your hospital moving forward. Talk to your IT department about solutions. You may have to budget more money into boosting your cybersecurity, but it’s likely that the cost will still be cheaper than the fallout from a widespread data breach.

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