The average cost of a healthcare data breach in 2021 was US$9.6 million. Altogether, healthcare security breaches cost the industry US$6 trillion in 2020.
Worse still, these figures don’t tell you about the public relations hit healthcare organisations take whenever a breach occurs, or the loss of creditability that results from a data breach. Few organizations can deal with this type of nightmare and remain profitable.
But healthcare organisations are inviting targets for hackers. The healthcare industry, in fact, is among the biggest cybersecurity targets of any other industry.
As a result, the number of breaches they incur annually is staggering. In fact, more than 89% of healthcare providers have suffered data breaches. And they’re becoming more frequent in today’s digital world.
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If you’re a healthcare leader, you need to take the threat of data breaches seriously. Failing to do so can cost you big time.
The key reasons hackers target healthcare businesses include:
- High demand for patient information and often-outdated IT systems in place
- Long busy days by healthcare workers prevent them from educating themselves on critical security risks or updating software
- Potential disruptions by a complete overhaul in online security are prohibitive
- Private patient information is worth a lot of money to hackers
To protect yourself from hackers, you need to re-examine your security posture and boost your security protocols. But with new threats emerging daily, where do you put your money?
Here are four critical cybersecurity challenges healthcare businesses like yours face, and the steps you can take to reduce their impact:
1. Unsecured Mobile Devices
Connecting to networks remotely from mobile devices is risky, especially for unsecured mobile devices. However, about 5 million unsecured medical devices were running through IoT and IoMT in 2020
This is due to the fact that the use of mobile phones, software apps, and IoMT devices is standard practice for medical doctors and admin personnel.
While these tools boost healthcare response, it increases your vulnerability to cyberattacks. That’s a problem.
Some steps you can take to shore up cybersecurity protection include implementing proven cybersecurity technologies, such as establishing role-based access control, and employing multi-factor authentication (MFA) for your systems.
2. Lack Of Data Security And Governance Awareness
According to an IONOS Cloud study, 40% of healthcare employees lack cybersecurity expertise, while 39% lack essential data protection knowledge. Such a skills gap invites cybersecurity attacks on healthcare businesses like yours.
Many healthcare employees also don’t understand critical security and data governance basics, and lack the necessary expertise to recognize and mitigate potential online threats.
Cybersecurity training for your healthcare employees is critical. You need to train your employees not to click on unknown links, open emails from unknown senders, or install unknown software.
You also need to train them to know their roles in securing business systems and data, the most common cybersecurity threats, and how to beat them.
3. Vulnerabilities In Legacy Systems
Many healthcare organizations are worried about change and don’t want to update their legacy systems. But this risks your data by creating golden opportunities for malicious actors.
That’s because many legacy systems lack protection against modern malware and viruses, which are constantly evolving. It’s no surprise then that 2021 was the second-worst year in terms of breached healthcare records.
How do you protect yourself? You do regular risk assessments on your IT system. Performing a technology risk assessment lets you uncover and address vulnerabilities in your systems before malicious actors can exploit them.
Meanwhile, updating security patches promptly, conducting periodic vulnerability assessments, and doing penetration testing can help purge vulnerabilities.
4. Data Loss From Ransomware, Malware, And DDoS Attacks
Globally, ransomware accounted for US$304.7 million in cybersecurity attacks in the first half of 2021, an increase of 151% since 2020.
These attacks are real and alarming for healthcare businesses. They open them up to severe financial penalties—from fines for not complying with data protection regulations to paying handsomely to retrieve data from ransomware. They are also PR nightmares.
Backing data up and storing and restoring it regularly protects you. So does employing seamless backup, using offline storage, and applying restoration techniques.
In fact, these steps are among the most effective ways to minimize damage from cybersecurity attacks and other intrusions. If nothing else, backup up your most essential systems daily and store backups off-site.
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MSPs Boost Security Quickly and Cost-effectively
Managing healthcare cybersecurity is a challenge, especially because of limited resources. So how can you address this pain point within your means?
Almost half of all healthcare organizations mix in-house and outsourced resources to manage cybersecurity, says a recent MGMA Stat poll.
That works, but many healthcare employees lack the capability, know-how, and experience to handle the evolving security needs of today’s healthcare organisations.
Savvy healthcare businesses instead rely on managed security providers (MSP) to take up the burden of boosting their cybersecurity measures quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively, while freeing their employees to focus on their area of expertise.
Outsourcing your healthcare business’s security to MSPs can be a solid choice, as they can dedicate their personnel and resources to the task. This in turn can help you minimise your security costs, while still ensuring patient confidentiality.
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MSPs Can Help Healthcare Businesses With Their Cybersecurity Needs
Businesses in the healthcare industry present a tempting target for hackers and other malicious actors in the cybersecurity space, for a variety of reasons.
This is because confidential patient data are a valuable prize for them, and healthcare businesses like yours tend to have various weak spots that can be exploited.
These include networks of unsecured devices, lack of cybersecurity awareness and training in personnel, legacy systems that are vulnerable to exploits, and susceptibility to data loss due to the need to maintain patient confidentiality.
Establishing an in-house security team is an option to address these concerns, but could take up more resources and personnel than your healthcare business can afford to divert from its core competencies.
Alternatively, you can follow the lead of many healthcare businesses just like yours, and turn to an MSP to fulfill your cybersecurity needs.
Doing so can not only help you shore up your defenses quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively, it can also help you protect the patient confidentiality which is key to your operations.
At AFON, we can be that MSP for your healthcare business. With the IT expertise and the technology at our disposal, you can entrust the security of your business to us.
If you’d like to know more about what we can do for you, do schedule a free consultation with us today!