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Why the healthcare sector is a prime target for cybercriminals?

Organisations around the world are becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks and pose a risk to the daily running of vital tasks that people rely on.  Back in May 2017, a global ransomware attack, WannaCry, caused havoc on computers around the world, including machines owned by the NHS.  Though there was a heightened concern around the impact of cyber-attacks and the tightening of cybersecurity, the healthcare sector continues to be a prime target for cybercriminals in numerous ways.

In what may be a surprise to some, the healthcare industry experiences the highest number of data breaches annually, according to an IT governance report on Global Healthcare Data Breaches.  This is likely down to the huge amount of data available on the healthcare systems, coupled with the devastating impact the unavailability of data would be. Further tempting cybercriminals is how widely accessible data is to various staff, increasing the risk of accidental breaches. 

Let’s discuss some of the reasons why healthcare has become such a target for cybercriminals, and what can be done about it. 

Confidential information comes with a price tag

As healthcare facilities need to store vast quantities of patient data, cybercriminals are highly attracted to the prospect of selling confidential information for a large pay-out.  Growing compliance means organisations face potentially huge fines if they don’t adhere to the rules, so hospitals need to ensure their patient data is kept highly secure.  One of the potential barriers to investing in cybersecurity for the industry is associated costs.  However, solutions like multi-factor authentication (MFA) are far more cost-effective than recovering from a cyber-attack. 

Healthcare devices as a cyber-attack tool

Healthcare devices, such as insulin pumps, x-rays and defibrillators, may not seem like a worthwhile target for cybercriminals, given their challenge to sell on and financially unviable data.  But although they may not be the initial target, they can be used as a tool to access devices that contain valuable information, such as servers.  What’s more, medical devices often don’t involve the level of security found on other devices such as laptops and computers, making them an easier target.    

Cybersecurity doesn’t need to hinder working practices

Healthcare staff often work long hours and have to work to a tight schedule, so they may be reluctant to add online security processes to everyday tasks.  Furthermore, they may not have the necessary education to deal with online threats. 

Staff working in healthcare need to think carefully about how to implement security protocols without impending the level of care staff provide.  One of the best ways to do this is by introducing measures that can work alongside existing software, reducing the learning curve and minimising distractions for staff.  Single Sign-On (SSO) solutions allow users to access multiple applications with just one single set of credentials, creating a seamless working routine without compromising security.     

Minimising the risk of a healthcare cyber-attack

Although the healthcare industry has made many advancements in medical technology in recent years, cybersecurity is still lacking in various areas.  Restricted budgets and a reluctance to learn new systems may be fuelling the problem.  However, there are ways to introduce affordable cybersecurity that doesn’t result in disruption to the everyday practices healthcare staff are used to.

By upgrading devices to the latest software versions, replacing end-of-life software and introducing seamless security measures, healthcare facilities can be better prepared to thwart cyber-attacks and their devastating financial and human impacts.

Want to protect your business from financial loss, major disruption and a damaged reputation?  Boost your cyber-security today with our single-source managed cyber-security.

Aztek