Guarding Health: Immediate Steps Required to Strengthen Cybersecurity

by | Sep 10, 2023

The healthcare field is currently going through a digital revolution, which means that strong cybersecurity measures are more important than ever. Cyber threats are becoming more advanced, so healthcare organizations need to take proactive steps to protect patient data and critical systems. In this article, we will explore the challenges faced by the healthcare industry and discuss the necessary cybersecurity measures that hospitals and organizations must take.

In 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported a shocking 28.5 million record breaches in healthcare. This statistic highlights the urgent need for cybersecurity. Compromised credentials are a major vulnerability, allowing threat actors to bypass access controls and gain unauthorized access to sensitive systems and data.

To address this issue, healthcare organizations need strong internal policies and employee training programs to ensure proper data usage and sharing. Complex and regularly changed passwords can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access. Passwords are often targeted by cybercriminals, so it is important to strengthen them to prevent breaches.

With advancements in artificial intelligence, hospitals need to carefully choose security tools or partners capable of detecting AI-generated threats. These advancements provide new opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities in healthcare systems. By using advanced threat detection mechanisms, healthcare organizations can reduce the risk of AI-generated breaches and protect their systems.

The healthcare industry relies heavily on custom applications that often lack sufficient security testing, which is another challenge. If these applications are not properly secured, they can become gateways for cybercriminals to infiltrate networks and compromise critical infrastructure. Thorough security testing for all custom applications is important to ensure they meet high cybersecurity standards.

Ransomware attacks continue to be a major issue in healthcare, causing disruptions and even patient deaths. The American Hospital Association warns that delays and disruptions in healthcare delivery increase the risk of negative outcomes. To counter these risks, hospitals need comprehensive backup and recovery systems and collaboration with third-party threat hunting teams. These proactive measures can identify and address potential threats before they become full-blown attacks.

In addition to securing internal systems, healthcare organizations also need to ensure the security of their third-party partners. With many vendors and connected devices, there are more entry points for cybercriminals. Rigorous security assessments and strong cybersecurity measures should be required from all partners to minimize vulnerabilities.

Implementing multi-factor authentication is a best practice for confirming identity and adding an extra layer of security. Requiring users to provide multiple forms of verification, such as a password and a unique code sent to their mobile devices, reduces the risk of unauthorized access.

Maintaining an ongoing inventory management system for all medical devices and software is another important step in enhancing cybersecurity. Regular vulnerability scans should be done before installing new medical devices or technology to quickly identify and address potential weaknesses.

The unique challenges faced by the healthcare industry make it a prime target for cybercriminals. As AI continues to advance in healthcare, unintentional breaches and exposure to cyber threats become more common. Healthcare organizations need to adapt their cybersecurity measures, using AI-powered solutions to detect and mitigate emerging threats.

In conclusion, the healthcare industry needs to prioritize strong cybersecurity measures to protect patient data, ensure uninterrupted healthcare delivery, and prevent catastrophic consequences. By taking proactive steps, implementing comprehensive policies, and partnering with trusted cybersecurity experts, healthcare organizations can effectively protect their systems and maintain the trust of patients and stakeholders. The time to act is now—the future of healthcare depends on it.