The health industry holds some of the most protected personal information about people. It could be date of birth and social security numbers, insurance information and medical records. This data is valuable to criminals and is often used to commit identity theft and fraud. In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in the number of data breaches in the healthcare industry. With the IoT of things gaining popularity, the healthcare sector is most susceptible to cybercriminals who launch ransomware attacks, data breaches, phishing scams, and distributed denial of services etc.
Healthcare breaches are more common than ever before. You would be surprised to know that the healthcare sector suffered about 337 breaches in the first half of 2022 alone. The healthcare industry is a prime target for data breaches because of the sensitive nature of the data. There are several steps that healthcare organisations can take to protect their data.
This article will examine why healthcare data breaches are on the rise and what steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim.
Breaches in Healthcare
The rise in healthcare breaches concerns everyone, especially patients and their families. Healthcare is one of our most valuable assets, so it only makes sense that we take steps to protect it. Unfortunately, there are many ways that a healthcare breach can occur.
Some of these include:
- A data breach. It occurs when someone hacks into your system and steals information from you or another company. This could include your bank account numbers and social security numbers. It could be other personal information such as name, address and date of birth.
- A ransomware attacks. This happens when hackers encrypt all files on your computer system and demand payment to decrypt them.
- A phishing scam. This occurs when someone sends an email claiming to be from a legitimate source. It could be from your doctor’s office or hospital, with an attachment that contains malware to fraudulent websites.
- Distributed denial of services attack. This is a hackers infiltrate the hospital network with malicious intent. This attack can block access to critical services such as bed capacity, data sharing services, and appointment scheduling services.
Why Are Healthcare Breaches on the Rise?
Healthcare breaches are a serious issue that can have significant consequences for those affected. Breaches can lead to identity theft, financial loss, and even physical harm.
The rise in healthcare breaches is due to the increase in the number of medical devices and IoT devices. These devices are sometimes not appropriately secured or updated and can lead to data theft and hacking. With more and more data being stored in electronic formats, it is easy for hackers to access this information.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that protects individuals’ healthcare information. The law includes provisions that need healthcare providers and health plans to follow privacy and security standards. All medical personnel and hospitals, healthcare bodies are HIPAA covered entities and are protected by the Privacy Rule and the HIPAA Security Rule.
There are several reasons healthcare breaches involving medical devices are rising. Some of them include the following:
- Lack of cybersecurity around medical devices.
- Lack of training for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare personnel who have an increased use of Wi-Fi-connected devices in the healthcare domain. They should be trained to identify threats and how enticing traps cybercriminals set.
- The high-value nature of personal information
- Growing demand for patient data
- The implementation of new technologies, but lack of updating in old systems in hospitals that make it easier for hackers to break in
- The rapid growth in cloud computing has made it easier for hackers to access patient records. Hospitals and health insurers have less control over their data and security measures than other institutions.
Hospitals also have a lot of data that cybercriminals can steal or manipulate. Every hospital has patients’ information, including their names, addresses, social security numbers, insurance details, and phone numbers. Many hospitals also store other sensitive patient information in their computer systems.
Stolen medical records can be used to commit fraud or identity theft against a patient or their family. These records could be used to steal insurance benefits that were supposed to go toward medical care for the patient. But instead, the benefits went into someone else’s pocket.
In addition to stolen medical records, hackers can use compromised computers or other equipment. They can launch malware attacks against other systems within the institution. Hackers could then use this malware to steal sensitive patient data.
How to Avoid Healthcare Breaches
The healthcare industry is one of the most regulated industries in the world. One of the reasons for this is to protect patient data from being breached. Healthcare breaches can be avoided with preparation and training. HIPAA-covered entities must take multiple precautions when safeguarding their patients’ information.
The need for increased security is one of the top challenges facing healthcare providers today. Healthcare organisations are being forced to take cybersecurity seriously and fast. Healthcare organisations must focus on security practices and update cyber policies and procedures. Besides, they should consider implementing a risk-based approach to protecting their information assets.
Here are some tips for avoiding healthcare breaches:
- Implement a robust security plan. This includes regular monitoring and biometric authentication of staff, devices and systems.
- Ensure all employees have been trained. They should know the importance of security protocols and be familiar with their responsibilities.
- Consider using third-party vendors. They help to handle sensitive data and information, such as patient records and medical files.
- Have an incident response plan that includes how to respond during a breach or other security incident.
- Use strong passwords that aren’t easily guessed by hackers and enable 2FA for accounts.
- Protect your equipment. Ensure all devices and software used by your company are up-to-date and patched with the latest updates. This will help protect them from any vulnerabilities that hackers might try to exploit.
- Keep an eye on your network traffic. Monitor all network activity by monitoring your network logs and traffic logs. This way, you’ll be able to spot unusual activity before it’s too late.
When it comes to healthcare, data breaches are unfortunately on the rise and are predicted to continue to increase in the coming years. These breaches can severely impact both patients and healthcare organisations. This can lead to decreased trust, damaged reputation, and financial loss.
There are several reasons why healthcare data breaches are on the rise. One of the most common reasons is a lack of security protocols and procedures. Many healthcare organisations still use outdated technology, making them more vulnerable to attacks.
It’s important to implement robust security protocols and procedures. This is to help healthcare organisations avoid data breaches. Besides, using updated technology and software can help reduce the risk of a breach.