5 of the Biggest Threats Facing Healthcare Cyber Security

5 of the Biggest Threats Facing Healthcare Cyber Security

With cyber attacks on healthcare becoming more sophisticated and pervasive, it is increasingly clear healthcare providers have insufficient and outdated approaches to security. Digital security utilized by most healthcare providers functions by protecting against individual and immediate attacks, instead of being a universal, extensive strategy. For healthcare providers, tending to and caring for ill patients is the top priority, so any breach of data or any C-Suite member becoming compromised would result in total calamity for healthcare centers and their patients.

The following are five of the biggest threats facing healthcare cyber security:

  1. Ransomware is a style of cyber attack that requires little sophistication on the part of the attackers. This style of attack takes aim at low level data, meaning that there is little risk and technical skill required on the end of the attacker, causing their strikes to be more frequent because of the ease with which ransomware attacks can be executed. Files with minimal importance often do not have backups, nor proper access control permissions leaving them all the more susceptible to attack. Ransomware, due to its unsophisticated nature, is used for attacks on outdated systems and unnecessary software, preying on overlooked vulnerabilities that healthcare providers pay little attention to, due to their minimal importance or antiquated standing.

  2. Hackers resort to phishing in order to prey on healthcare providers. Recently, the fraud technique of “whaling” has become the most hazardous for members of the C-suite. As opposed to trying to infiltrate an organization via thousands of users, whaling targets C-level corporate executives, i.e. catching a big fish. This poses a greater threat to an organization by targeting those with the highest security permissions, those with access to medical records or payment information. Hackers can leverage C-suite members for more money, or even pose as a CEO or CFO and contact other C-suite members requesting confidential information or funds.

  3. Inadequate education and shared information

    C-suite members do not receive adequate education on security matters, therefore, effective security measures are not prioritized. It is imperative that C-level executives have the skill and wherewithal to be able to grasp technological threats. The relationships and lines of communication between C-suite members and security officers must improve, as well as an increased importance and value placed on those who can identify threats and assessments while still being able to carry out strategy. Neither can perform their job responsibilities without a degree of shared knowledge, understanding and compliance.

  4. Application security is an area in which most healthcare providers struggle. This form of security utilizes software and hardware systems to guard against threats targeting specific applications. Data and files protected within applications are guarded until they go through the decryption process, at which time the data becomes vulnerable, exposed to unauthorized entities. The silver lining with application security is that forms of this protection already exist; however, it is up to organizations to create the proper implementation.

  5. Actual device security needs improvement because of the vulnerable protection of the individual devices. For example, smartwatches court a substantial level of cyber-attacking because manufacturers are not briefed on healthcare provider cyber security, and thus, the necessary protections are not implemented in the devices. In instances of mass production, one missed safeguard, or an entire malfunction in the security platform would prove costly and time consuming to remedy. Web-enabled appliances, specifically in the medical field, need to be secured, as any form of cyber attack would be dire for both organizations and patients.

While healthcare security has its flaws, there are streamlined measures already proven and in place that organizations can take in order to prevent against threats should they see fit. Data, devices, and employees at all levels are threatened daily. It is important for organizations to understand the risks, needs and procedures concerning their security in order to protect not only themselves, but their patients.