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The Biggest Threat to Data Security in Healthcare in 2023

Josh Moore
01/18/2023
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Information about your health is the most personal and important data in existence. A person’s medical records hold vast quantities of information that could be used against them. Naturally, that means the healthcare world has become one of the top targets for hackers. Cyber threats in general continue to increase, and handling threats to data security in healthcare in 2023 is a top priority for IT professionals.

According to CyberMDX, hospitals now account for 30% of all large data breaches.1 And it’s widely known that ransomware attacks in particular are a major threat to the healthcare industry, just as they are in all areas today.

Healthcare organizations must have access to their data at all times — it can literally be life or death. That leaves them open to the possibility of actually paying ransoms when a ransomware attack happens in order to reduce the chances of putting lives at risk. That could be costly in many ways, and should be entirely unnecessary. 

As telehealth services have become commonplace, the need for cloud technologies has increased. As a result, new avenues for cyber threats have opened, and data protection remains a major challenge. 

Common Cybersecurity Information Technology Challenges in Healthcare

 

So many factors put various segments of the healthcare industry at great risk from the get-go, such as the vast networks and varying levels of care — not to mention everyone who has access to information between healthcare professionals, billing specialists and insurance companies, to name a few. Then, when you consider the strain on the healthcare industry we’ve seen during the past few years due to the pandemic, you’re looking at a multitude of challenges that only worsen the chances of data breaches.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing healthcare organizations today? This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s an important one to remember and address.

Talent Resource Shortages

According to Cyberseek.org, the current supply/demand ratio is 65%, meaning only 65% of the demand of all cybersecurity positions is being filled.2 Staffing issues and strained resources have been widely reported worldwide throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and with no real and total end in sight, that could remain an issue throughout the foreseeable future.

Outdated Technologies

Some of the most highly funded facilities may be using top-tier tech, but that’s not the case everywhere. Plus, some of the most intricate and specialized technology may not receive frequent updates, leaving it open for malicious actors to identify attack points. Whether it’s hardware, software, or security systems, healthcare organizations using anything that’s past its prime are at a greater risk for an attack.

Not Enough Cybersecurity Training

Doctors, nurses, assistants, health insurance call center reps — they all work in the healthcare world, but may not all have the proper training on how to protect patient data and other electronic records. Medical professionals in particular may be behind on cybersecurity awareness, since their focus has been on learning the intricacies of their extremely specialized and important specialities. 

New Risks from Virtual Visits

Many healthcare providers scrambled to switch to telemedicine when the pandemic hit, and implementing cybersecurity policies, procedures and standardized environments may have been an afterthought.


RELATED: How Long Does It Take To Detect a Cyberattack


Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail: Prepare to Protect Patient Records, Medical Devices

2023 may be a difficult year for protecting healthcare data. Using a systemic cybersecurity approach to deal with potential threats, ensuring that healthcare data remains available and mitigating the risk of data breaches involving personal health and other sensitive information will be critical.

The first step is to provide security training to personnel. Phishing remains a top concern for every organization and, essentially, every individual. 

Many data breaches start from clicking a phishing link. Different levels of data security awareness exist among healthcare employees, so it’s key to implement training and other tools to boost their cybersecurity literacy.

It’s also crucial to have standard operating procedures in place for when a security breach does occur, and to make sure that employees at every level are familiar and comfortable with executing on the protocols. 

In today’s world, healthcare organizations must account for remote computers, tablets, smartphones and other devices, especially now that telemedicine is more routine. It’s here to stay, so healthcare organizations must choose secure platforms for their virtual visits with patients. Appropriate protections must be in place at every touchpoint.

Healthcare providers can also improve security by simply cutting back on who has access to healthcare data. Every level of data should be accessed on a need-to-know basis in order to reduce the number of chances data is mishandled or someone inadvertently opens the door to a malicious party. And, of course, anyone who leaves a healthcare organization should have their access revoked immediately.

What’s Your Cybersecurity Risk Level?

Are you as prepared as you think for cyber threats? We’ve created a tool you can use to help pinpoint where you and your employees are in your cybersecurity awareness. It’s free and only takes a few minutes; just click the Cybersecurity Risk Assessment link below, answer a few key questions, and check your email for your score.

 

Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

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