Healthcare News & Insights

3 healthcare technology security risks you should know about

gettyimages-465953042The healthcare industry has become increasingly reliant on technology. From medical translation tools to mobile apps, these devices are helping healthcare institutions save money and improve patient treatment. But they’re also giving hackers the opportunity to steal sensitive health and financial information. In this guest post, Shayla Price, B2B marketing strategist, highlights three vulnerabilities in healthcare security systems and how you can avoid them. 


Right now, 80% of physicians use smartphones and medical apps. While this new era of healthcare technology has its benefits, it also comes with its own set of unique challenges.

Here are three vulnerabilities in healthcare security systems and how you can avoid them:

1. Patient records and the cloud

In healthcare facilities, patient records are largely stored in the cloud. While this makes the retrieval of time sensitive information faster, it also makes this confidential information vulnerable to hacking.

When a hacker gains access to private health records, they can post the information online, release the information to a patient’s employer or even use it to steal a patient’s identity.

Stolen health credentials can go for $10 each, about 10 or 20 times the value of an American credit card number, according to Don Jackson, director of threat intelligence at PhishLabs.

How can you increase the security of patient records?

Use a secure repository for healthcare records, like contract management software. It’ll guard your organization against breaches. It encrypts information stored electronically, possesses strong password protection, and implements two-factor authentication for access to all systems.

2. Embedded devices and the Internet of things

Embedded devices are being introduced to hospitals all over the world. These devices allow physicians to collaborate with each other and patients. However, they’re also vulnerable to breaches.

There are over 2 billion electronic sensors being used in the medical field, and this number is expected to rise to a trillion. The IT framework of these sensors is highly complex, and vulnerabilities become exacerbated when connected to unsecured healthcare networks.

Each sensor in use is a potential security risk. And untrained healthcare employees aren’t aware of the issues. Therefore, these devices become easy targets for theft and data extraction.

Even if a stolen device is returned before anyone notices, thieves may insert a code to control it remotely. This means hackers can continue to extract data without the hospital’s knowledge.

To combat this challenge, update security software regularly. When areas of security concerns are found, the manufacturer must send patches to the healthcare facilities.

3. Outdated and legacy software

Using outdated software can lead to security breaches. In fact, hackers hope your healthcare facility is using older versions of operating systems, browsers and plugins. It makes stealing your patients’ sensitive information easier for them.

The United States Office of Personnel Management experienced a security breach due to outdated software. The breach exposed the personal information of more than 4 million current and former federal employees. The federal government offered everyone affected identity theft monitoring and insurance.

Not only was the software outdated, the department didn’t have a multi-layered security system. That includes firewalls, intrusion detection systems, malware scanners, integrity auditing procedures and local storage encryption tools. These tools are considered standard for all modern software packages that store sensitive information.

How can you increase security with outdated software?

These steps can get you started:

  • Invest in automated systems that offer security updates and patches
  • Buy the newest versions of any software, and
  • Update security protocols on a regular basis.

Technology security threats in the healthcare industry are real. The cloud, unsecured sensors and outdated software can all cause vulnerabilities.

Invest in the proper tools to automate security protocols. Don’t make it easy for hackers to exploit weaknesses in your system.

Prevention is key against healthcare breaches.

Shayla Price creates and promotes content. She specializes in digital marketing, technology and social responsibility.

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