Why Cybersecurity needs to be a priority for the Medical Sector ?

While other vital infrastructure sectors have been targeted, the healthcare industry faces ‎particular challenges due to the nature of its purpose. Cyber-attacks in healthcare can ‎have far-reaching consequences that go beyond financial loss and data breaches. For ‎hospitals, ransomware is a particularly severe form of malware, as the loss of patient ‎data can put lives at risk.‎

The healthcare industry is beset by several other cybersecurity problems besides ‎ransomware. Malware that compromises system integrity and patient privacy, as well as ‎distributed denial of service (DDoS) assaults that interrupt facilities' ability to deliver ‎patient care, are among the challenges. With the passage of time, the industry faces yet ‎another severe challenge : data breach. The graph shows in 2009 there were mere 18 ‎cases of data breach whereas, 2020 has seen a whopping rise of 642 cases. A disturbing ‎increase from two-digit figure to three-digit in just a decade. ‎

Business Risk

Why Industry is a target for cybercrime

Data theft or PHI theft

Protected Health Information (PHI) is any sensitive information, such as a person's name, address, phone number, biometric data, and so on, that cannot be destroyed or changed. In the black market, health records and other patient-related information are in high demand. Because healthcare organizations have exceptional storage and access to all patient information, hackers see them as prime targets for their black market payday and cyber-business objectives. These can be used to fabricate fake insurance claims, fake prescriptions, fake reports.

We've heard about SOLARWINDS and how it impacted the supply chain network of the ‎United States, affecting 500 government agencies and 500 Fortune corporations. One of ‎the sectors that was impacted was healthcare. This is the most recent example of such a ‎large scale, how cybersecurity is affecting healthcare. The Healthcare industry is also ‎prone to cyberattacks and the recent rise of ransomware attacks agrees with it.

Financial gain

In certain cases, hackers are able to essentially sell hacked patient ‎information back to the hospital because they deploy ransomware to hold the ‎information hostage until they are paid to return it. Ransomware attacks have increased ‎the most in the last year.‎ The most common ransomware that has been seen during this COVID-19 situation ‎is ‘NetWalker ransomware’, ‘PonyFinal ransomware’, ‘Maze ransomware’ etc.‎

“Most of the targets located in Canada, France, India, South Korea, and the United ‎States were directly involved in researching vaccines and treatments for COVID-‎‎19,” – CYBER PEACE FOUNDATION

Use of Outdated technologies

Despite the incredible advancements in medical ‎technology over the last decade, not every facet of the healthcare business has caught ‎up. Due to budgetary constraints imposed by high-cost capital equipment and restricted ‎capital budgets, many health systems continue to use obsolete technologies.‎

Unprepared medical staff to handle cyber risk

Healthcare workers must be educated on ‎the hazards connected with medical devices, as well as how to recognise typical ‎cybersecurity and medical device threats. The personnel should be aware that the ‎medical equipment may interface with other systems, and that these coupled devices ‎and systems pose an additional threat.‎

‎Cybersecurity in healthcare is a priority.‎

If delayed can ‎become a liability.

Technical Threats

How Industry Is Targeted

During the COVID-19 pandemic, “many ransomware attacks have taken ‎place in the healthcare sector, starting from April 2020. Attackers have also targeted the ‎medical manufacturing sector, billing system, etc through ransomware. The most ‎common ransomware that has been seen during this COVID-19 situation is ‘NetWalker ‎ransomware’, ‘PonyFinal ransomware’, ‘Maze ransomware’ etc.”- Cyber peace foundation

The challenges Industry is facing

Identify common points of failure
Identifying and patching common vulnerabilities used by criminals, as well as ‎blocking known malicious sites and IP addresses, will help secure data and ‎systems. Shutting down machines that are not in use can also help decrease the ‎risk of exposure of sensitive medical information. ‎
Optimizing limited resources and support ‎
Most healthcare providers, even the most prestigious ones, lack sophisticated ‎architecture and data management systems to manage data gathered from ‎various sources‎
Connecting healthcare and technology ‎
Healthcare leaders and doctors must create closer links with medical ‎manufacturers and software application development companies in order to fully ‎realize the potential of healthcare technology to revolutionize health systems and ‎develop a connected healthcare environment. ‎
A lack of policy
Establishing network policies and ensuring that they are ‎followed can be difficult in larger healthcare organizations that have a huge ‎network around the globe and a larger database.
Unsafe online employee behavior
Such as downloading pirated software, ‎unwanted videos, etc. may increase vulnerability to attack.
Non-compliant healthcare organizations
HIPPA compliance is a must for every ‎healthcare service provider nowadays. Incompliance may attract fines from HIPPA ‎as well as leave the system insecure.

Experts Tips

Top tips for securing Healthcare Domain


One way to mitigate the effects of a lack of funding and resources is to provide ‎basic training to all network users.‎

This can be as simple as providing staff with a guidebook that includes ‎information about what to look out for and tips for practising good cybersecurity ‎hygiene. There are many companies which carry out detailed training sessions for ‎employees to get a better hold of technology and software in use. Giving people ‎the information they need to secure the network at all points of access, could ‎reduce the number of incidents caused by human error.‎

Adopt multi-factor authentication for employees and students

Using multi-factor authentication solutions, you can ensure that only the ‎necessary and appropriate people have access to remote healthcare tools like ‎telepathy, telemedicine, etc. Instead of relying on a username and password ‎combination to access systems, users must provide an additional form of ‎identification. Additional layers of identification, such as a one-time passcode ‎‎(OTP) sent via SMS or a fingerprint or iris scan, can be implemented to secure the ‎channel as the healthcare industry has sensitive information. ‎

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