Importance of Cyber Security in Healthcare Sector


The process of protecting electronic information from unauthorized access is called Cyber security, which aims to safeguard the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data.

Since the advancement of technology, the health industry is one of the most prominent sectors constantly threatened by cyber attacks. On the one hand, automation helps the health industry to a greater extent; on the other hand, the number of malicious cyberattacks increases.

Healthcare professionals are experts in identifying viruses in patients and not computers.

Why is the health sector targeted?

Healthcare is a storehouse of patient data. They are filled with confidential information that is worth a lot of money, making them exposed to hackers who work to sell the data quickly.

Cyber attacks on the health sector should be handled with care because, in addition to information security, patients’ health and safety are also affected.

The Healthcare sector is filled with life-changing and life-saving capabilities, and cyberattacks threaten this function. They pose a threat to the patient data affecting the very purpose of digitization. In the past decade, many notable cyberattacks against hospitals have been made.

Cyberattacks affect patient care and pose severe threats to patient safety. Failing to address cyber issues results in losing credibility and patient trust.

The hackers are very interested in this Personal Health Information of a patient since it is a bundle of collections of consumer information that they can sell. Personal Health Information consolidates a patient’s past, present, and future health. The PHI Information has often been held hostage through Ransomware attacks where the healthcare organizations have to make a payoff in exchange for the hacked PHI.

The health sector is majorly targeted because of the following reasons:

  1. The Risk of Insurance fraud increases as the criminals can sell the patient’s medical and billing information.
  2. Many medical devices are connected to the Internet and susceptible to getting tampered with.
  3. Even a single hacked device can open the whole organization. Due to collaborative working, the staff may access data remotely, which poses a threat as not all devices are secure.
  4. Medical Professionals do not have the necessary experience to analyze online risks and expertise to mitigate online threats.
  5. There is only a limited budget in the healthcare sector, making it impossible for all healthcare staff to be effective in cybersecurity practices.
  6. Hospitals use several devices, making it hard to stay on top of security. Even if one device is compromised, it opens the whole network to data breaches and medical device hacks.
  7. Since the nature of the medical industry is urgent, there is no time to pause and consider the security implications whenever confidential patient data needs to be shared and accessed by a team of staff members.
  8. In a time-critical environment, assessing every medical device’s credentials is impossible.
  9. In most hospitals, the technology is outdated, making the healthcare industry unprepared for attacks.
  10. Healthcare breaches of Personal Health Information (PHI) are on the rise, and the presence of financial and personal information and confidential medical records make the healthcare sector a target.

HIPAA:

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly known as HIPAA Act, was formulated in 1996 to oversee and assess the use of Personal Health Information.

Since the healthcare industry deals with a patient’s sensitive information, including a person’s ailment and treatments, the government felt the need to regulate how this data is created, transmitted, and stored by the healthcare organization and thereby introduced HIPAA regulation to overlook the same.

The HIPAA and HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) regulation of 2009 aims to limit the number of users handling sensitive PHI data.

This includes limiting the PHI healthcare providers, insurance companies, and others, and a limit is also placed on sharing the data with other organizations.

Common types of Cyber Attacks:

Although there are many forms of cyber threats, the following are the most common attacks:

Ransomware

Ransomware affects the Integrity, Confidentiality, and availability of information. This is a common type of cyber attack wherein the files and other data will immediately be encrypted once a device is affected. Once the encryption happens, the access will be denied, and they will demand a ransom. Unless the ransom is paid, the data will be held hostage by the cyber-criminal.

Malware

Malware is a cyber-attack wherein the usernames, passwords, and other vital credentials are stolen by cybercriminals, and the entire disk drive may be erased, and data becomes unrecoverable.

Phishing

You would have encountered several situations wherein a site asks you to click on a malicious link or open a malicious attachment. This process is known as Phishing, and it usually targets individual users, and Phishing can also be done via e-mail. Whenever you come across a claim that is too good to be a valid claim, a site that asks you to do something on an urgent basis, any gift, giveaway, or promise that feeds on an individual’s greed or fear, knows that you are susceptible to Phishing.

Clicking to open the link or file takes the user to a website that might infect the computer and solicit sensitive information. Accessing the link or file may result in downloading malicious software or accessing the data stored on your computer or other computers within your network.

Security controls in the healthcare sector:

Every health sector organization is advised to have advanced security controls in place such that even if one command fails, another should take its place. Cybersecurity practices will be implemented based on the organization’s size, complexity, and nature. Basic security controls like Antivirus, Data loss prevention, E-mail getaway, firewalls, Intrusion detection and prevention system, Security awareness training, Incident response plan, and adequate policies and procedures must be in place to protect oneself from cyberattacks.

Cyber security services are usually provided in Risk Analysis, Data Inventory, Vendor risk management, Penetration Testing services, Incident monitoring, and responses. Today cyber security services have improved tremendously with the advent of the Internet of Things devices that are highly popular in the healthcare sector.

All the medical devices are connected to the network to help doctors, nurses, and others who provide critical care for patients. Improving the security of network-connected devices minimizes the risk of cyberattacks. From tracking the accuracy of Inventory to applying risk assessment models to high-priority areas, we can mitigate cyber attacks to a greater extent.

Patient wellness includes protecting technologies and networks that store sensitive and confidential data. Healthcare personnel are trained to be cyber vigilant, keep their computers secure, and protect their data. An organization’s vigilance against cyber-attacks will increase proportionately with the workforce’s cybersecurity knowledge.

Areas to implement security controls in Healthcare:

Among others, the following areas demand an urgent need for cyber security:

  • Today, E-mail is the primary source of communication in any organization. All the valuable information is present in the mailbox storage. Hence, the most importance is given to e-mail security, one of the prominent components of Cybersecurity in Healthcare. Inculcate the habit of never opening e-mails from unknown senders.
  • Implement Multi-factor authentication and incident response plans to manage successful phishing attacks. Develop software so that whenever an employee clicks on phishing e-mails, the proven and tested response procedures pop up.
  • Physically securing a device is also as crucial as securing them technically. Physically securing a device involves safeguarding operation and properly configuring data. Unauthorized physical access to computers will compromise their efficiency.
  • Virtual consultations have also grown tremendously, so patients need to learn how to contact their healthcare providers. They must understand the privacy and security policies and ensure their information is secure.
  • Security Awareness training at frequent intervals is essential to Cybersecurity in Healthcare so that everyone knows cyber threats and is well prepared to tackle any security accidents.
  • Every organization has a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) who works on strategies and makes executive decisions on implementing strict cyber security programs.
  • Implementing pre-procurement security requirements for the vendors so that no breach happens at the vendor’s end. Deploy anti-malware detection and remediation tools
  • Training staff and Information technology users on data access to mitigate procedural errors and ensure users understand the authorized patching procedures.
  • Ensure regular auditing of health record systems and sensitive data, train staff to recognize suspicious e-mails, and teach them where to forward them.
  • Implementation of data loss prevention tools to avoid data leakage via e-mails and uploads.
  • Ensure the data is encrypted, especially when transmitting them to other devices, and ensure sensitive information is removed from every machine before it is retired or resold.
  • Install Proven and tested data backups with the proven restoration of data. Implement a backup strategy and secure the backups, so they are unavailable on the network while backing up.
  • Encrypt data at rest on all the mobile devices so that even if unauthorized persons come across the device, the data remains inaccessible.
  • Be clear about which computers may access and store sensitive patient data and limit the users who can log in from remote desktops.
  • Share the Cyberthreats with other healthcare organizations, develop a ransomware recovery model, and ensure it is tested regularly.

Above all, it is essential to implement 24/7 cybersecurity monitoring in the SIEM services (Security Information and Event Management) services. SIEM helps organizations improve the visibility of cybersecurity threats. As the healthcare industry is rapidly growing in size and complexity, there is an increased risk to patient confidentiality and safety. Despite the regulatory requirements, including personal health information (PHI), data breaches are occurring rapidly in the health sector. SIEM services address the above challenges by providing security intelligence on real-time data to the health sector.

Currently, the healthcare industry is losing its battle against cybercrime.

Every component of the healthcare industry is affected by cyber-attacks; implementing cyber security is a necessary process. Cyber security influences everything from confidential and sensitive healthcare information to ensuring the patients.

When protected Personal Health Information is lost, it not only results in fines and legal liability for healthcare providers but also increases the hardship of the affected patient. We offer Vulnerability Management Services to assess and remediate cyber vulnerabilities across endpoints.

Since the consequence of a data breach is very costly, healthcare organizations need a Security Operations Center (SOC), an advanced level technology for detecting and responding to threats. SOC as a service solution will help detect anomalies, monitor user activity in the Active Directory, and flag unauthorized transactions.

We at SharkStriker help manage your security services and help in making your healthcare network resilient. We help you navigate all the security challenges with our next-gen managed security services, and we deliver rigorous and scalable Cybersecurity. We also help detect breaches and aim to protect sensitive patient information by identifying risky users. We recognize the vulnerabilities in the healthcare industry and provide adequate remedies to mitigate the same. Our mission is to protect IoT devices from cyberattacks and help create a safe and secure virtual environment for our users.