In the midst of a global healthcare crisis, as healthcare institutions struggle with the overwhelming impact of COVID-19, cybersecurity is often put onto the backburner. Healthcare organizations are prime targets for ransomware attacks because they are hyper-focused on handling the pandemic. Malicious hackers know this and are using this vulnerability to their advantage.
In recent months there has been a fairly sharp increase in security breaches of medical data. According to The US Health and Human Services, Cyber-attacks against healthcare organizations have risen by over 53% since July 2020. While the current healthcare crisis has increased cyberattacks on healthcare organizations, these organizations have always been highly targeted by hackers. 45% of data breaches in 2019 were in the healthcare sector. 83% of healthcare systems are running on outdated software and unsupported operating systems, leaving devices vulnerable to hackers. Healthcare has consistently ranked as one of the most susceptible sectors to cybercrime.
Data security needs to be one of healthcare’s biggest concerns. Hospitals store a massive amount of valuable and confidential data which hackers can easily sell. Healthcare organizations are not effectively managing their IT resources, leaving their devices and data vulnerable. The risks and costs associated with healthcare security breaches are high. The confidential, personal health data of millions are at risk. Unlike financial data, such as credit card numbers, which can quickly be changed, medical data is not perishable, making it particularly valuable. Data breaches and ransomware attacks last year alone cost the healthcare industry an estimated $4 billion. Recovery for one successful attack can cost up to $1,400,000 per institution. At a time when the healthcare industry is struggling with its finances, this is a price many HDOs cannot afford.
The increased use of devices connected to the internet has created new risks. It is estimated that by the end of 2020 there will be 20 billion smart devices, and by 2050, 1 trillion. Many of these devices, such as ventilators, MRI machines and heart rate monitors, were not developed with security in mind. Hackers know that and will use it to their advantage. The damage to patient safety brought on by attacks from cybercriminals can be severe. Patient care devices can become disrupted, leading to very dangerous and potentially fatal situations.
Combating the problem involves not only understanding the threat, but being proactive. Cyber criminals are vigilant, determined, and knowledgeable, so staying one step ahead of them is crucial. Protecting digital identities is essential to maintain trust with patients and avoid costly breaches.