Technology and digital systems play a major role in ensuring that healthcare organizations provide timely care to patients. However, with this development comes the risk of cyber threats. The number of cyber incidents in the healthcare sector has increased exponentially in recent years, reaching 13% of Arete’s ransomware caseload, while professional services hold the top spot with 35.8%. To address these challenges, we will discuss five strategies every organization should follow to stay safe from cyber risks.

Ransomware Incidents:

Typically, ransomware uses encryption to encrypt data and make it inaccessible to users. After receiving a ransom demand, the encrypted data can only be unlocked or decrypted after paying the threat actor. Encrypted data prevents patients from accessing their most recent information and medical records.

Healthcare organizations and hospitals are highly sensitive to medical information, and losing this data can have severe consequences. Organizations can regularly utilize security testing tools to minimize the impact and store backups on separate devices to keep the data secure. Companies should also update their systems regularly and restrict user access.

Phishing Incidents:

Phishing is the most common way ransomware is introduced into healthcare organizations, observed in 50.5% of Arete’s caseload. Phishing incidents occur without individuals realizing they are divulging potentially sensitive details. Threat actors can obtain sensitive information, including user login details, financial information, patient addresses, and credit card numbers. Organizations can implement end-user education and password management tools to reduce phishing incidents and risks.

Insider Threats:

Insider threats are a major concern for the healthcare industry. These cyber incidents are only sometimes perpetrated by threat actors, which makes it hard to mitigate actions from a legitimate employee with appropriate access to data. Insider threats can unleash other incidents, such as malware and ransomware. As a result, healthcare service providers should ensure user activity is constantly monitored, and background checks are implemented at every possible checkpoint.

Medical Device Hacking:

Medical device hacking refers to threat actors’ unauthorized access or control of medical instruments. These incidents pose significant risks to patients as they can cause harm or even death by altering the device’s function, stealing sensitive patient data, or introducing malware into hospital networks. Prevention measures such as using strong passwords, updating firmware regularly, and monitoring network traffic for suspicious activity can reduce this type of hacking.

Unsecured IoT Devices:

Threat actors have many choices when selecting a target surface in modern organizations. Internet of Things (IoT) devices that are not properly configured or have unpatched software vulnerabilities can be easy targets for hackers. IoT devices should usually be on a separate network or VLAN, with proper authentication and limited internet access. Organizations should conduct regular security assessments to secure IoT devices, ensure that devices are running on updated firmware, and limit access to authorized persons only.

The healthcare industry must prioritize cybersecurity to protect patient’s data (PHI). By taking the steps mentioned above, healthcare organizations can better protect themselves against cyber threats and create a secure digital environment for patients and healthcare providers.