With the increasing amount of patient data stored in digital form, healthcare organizations are becoming more vulnerable to cyber-attacks, something that has been further exacerbated by the recent pandemic. These attacks can have a significant impact on the healthcare industry, ranging from the exposure of patient information to financial loss and reputation damage.
During the year 2021, a substantial amount of healthcare data was exposed due to numerous cyber breaches, resulting in more than 40 million patient records being exposed in the United States. These statistics are alarming but with proper knowledge of the most common cyber-attacks that your healthcare business faces, you can be prepared.
1. Data breach
It appears that almost every day a different medical center is featured in the news due to a security violation of its data. Data breaches involve confidential, sensitive, or protected information being exposed to unauthorized people.The healthcare sector is the most commonly targeted area due to the financial gain that can be obtained by criminals from the acquisition of health-related data.
2. Ransomware attacks in healthcare
Ransomware is malicious software that restricts access to a computer system or data such as patient records until a ransom is paid, and these attacks are a growing threat to healthcare organizations. Not only does it cost considerable amounts to restore systems, but it can also take days to regain access to critical data after a ransomware attack. This can have a significant impact on patient care, as doctors and other medical professionals might be unable to access patient data. Ransomware attacks can also put patients at risk by exposing their information and putting them at risk for identity theft.
3. Phishing attacks
Phishing is one of the most widespread online hazards, with many companies becoming victims in recent years. The healthcare industry is no exception, and it is among the most common types of attack in this sector. Phishing can take many forms, from vast email campaigns with the intention of deceiving staff into surrendering passwords, to highly specialized attacks intended to deceive with fake invoice payments. Phishing scams can pose a threat to healthcare organizations as they not only compromise the confidentiality of information but also misdirect individuals by sending them to fraudulent websites. This can lead to financial loss as individuals may divulge their confidential information to hackers, or it can affect patient care if employees choose to visit unauthorized websites instead of accessing the legitimate system.
Malware is another common cyber-attack in the healthcare industry. It is a type of software designed to disrupt computer operations, gather information, or gain access to private computer systems. There are different types of malware, including viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and ransomware. These malware infections can be detrimental to healthcare organizations as they can infect their computers, networks and critical infrastructure.
5. DDoS attacks
A distributed denial of service, or DDoS attack, disrupts or suspends the normal operation of an online system. In a DDoS attack, hackers attempt to overload an online system with a high volume of requests by using a network of computers that have been compromised by malware.
Healthcare organizations are especially vulnerable to DDoS attacks as they are required to have an always-on operation. DDoS attacks can affect both internal systems such as patient management systems, as well as external systems such as websites and call centers. DDoS attacks can pose significant threats to healthcare organizations as they can disrupt critical operations and put patients at risk.
6. Stolen devices
A stolen device is another common cyber attack in the healthcare industry, especially among healthcare organizations that use mobile devices. Mobile devices are often targeted by cybercriminals as they are easy to steal and can contain sensitive information. Stolen devices can pose a threat to healthcare organizations as they can contain confidential information. This information can be misused by cyber criminals to gain access to critical systems, impersonate employees, or even extort money from healthcare organizations.
7. Insider threats
People inside healthcare organizations, such as employees, can be a major source of cybersecurity risk. These individuals may have intentions that are not necessarily in the best interests of the healthcare provider, thus putting the security of data and systems at risk. Internal actors can be particularly hazardous because they are not always monitored by the same security measures as external threats. Internal personnel already have access to the networks and are more likely to be able to gain extra privileges than outside users. To reduce the threat posed by insider threats, organizations should implement higher access control along with security awareness training to help other users recognize and guard against dubious or odd behavior.
Leverage healthcare cybersecurity with the experts
Cyber-attacks in the medical sector are a growing threat and pose a major risk to sensitive data, patient safety, and financial stability. To protect your healthcare business from these threats, invest in robust security systems and put focus on protecting their digital infrastructure. The managed cybersecurity experts at ION247 can tailor cybersecurity strategies to suit your unique requirements.