Of late, cybersecurity has become a growing concern for the healthcare industry as well. Especially, in the last few years, a significant number of IT security incidents have left many leading healthcare organizations in wary of their patient records. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, data breaches cost the healthcare industry an approximate of $5.6 billion each year. Additionally, The Breach Barometer Report: Year in Review too presented that an average of at least one healthcare cybersecurity breach per day took place in 2016 – costing more than 27 million patient records. 

In 2019, over 30 million patients in the USA have been affected due to healthcare cybersecurity infiltration in the form of third-party vendor and phishing attacks. As evident it is, neither small nor large healthcare providers are safe from cyberattacks. Let’s take a closer look at the current scenario on healthcare cybersecurity

Cybersecurity bottlenecks in healthcare 

The Data Breach Investigation Report by Verizon, in 2016, found that most healthcare data breaches are money-based. Subsequently, other common threats for big or small healthcare organizations include: 

  • Malware/ Ransomware – Most cyber attackers use malware and ransomware to affect individual devices, servers, or entire networking as well. 
  • Phishing – It involves shooting mass amounts of emails from fraud email addresses to obtain sensitive user information.
  • Misleading domains – Many false or misleading websites, similar to reputable websites, have been created to lure users. 
  • Encryption blind spots – Although encryption is vital in safeguarding patient data, it can also create certain blind spots wherein hackers can hide from the tools and techniques to detect a data breach. 
  • Cloud threats – One of the most vulnerable ways of breaching data, much of patients’ records are out from the cloud servers. Cloud-based hacking can be due to improper encryption or security glitch in the security of healthcare organizations. 


The Role of HIPAA

Apart from the rising cases of breach in healthcare cybersecurity, several healthcare organizations are now facing a tough time defending and managing their healthcare data while trying to keep cybercriminals at bay. 

On the other hand, the industry is also trying very hard to follow regulatory policies as set by Health Insurance and Portability Accountability (HIPAA) and adopting the latest technology to fight against the latest cybercrimes. 

What does the HIPAA guidelines suggest?

The guidelines set by HIPAA suggest all that healthcare cybersecurity administrators should do in order to maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of patient data. The HIPAA further makes sure that any problem arising from data breaches, system failures, or natural disasters, is curbed then and there. HIPAA takes care of the following:

  • Protecting patients’ sensitive medical data
  • Motivating the administration to adopt and execute security policies
  • Devising physical and digital security measures to protect on-site data, software, and equipment
  • Maintaining updated and accurate records of all patients 


How can data breaches be prevented?

Healthcare organizations must consider the following ways to prevent data loss and other security breaches: 

  • Tighten network authorization and access
  • Verify whether all third-parties are secure and HIPAA approved
  • Opt for remote access software or SAAS to manage authorization and third-party activities 
  • Create strong organization-based usernames and passwords 
  • Update usernames and passwords during third-party onboarding/ outboarding


Stepping into the future with adequate cybersecurity 

Evidently, 2019 had not been an easy year for healthcare cybersecurity data breaches. Still, experts predict that consistent cyberthreats would only gain more momentum in the near future, as cyber attackers are becoming more tech-savvy in hacking into the systems. Hence, it is becoming mandatory for healthcare providers to protect their devices along with the hardware, software, and internal networking, and more importantly, protect the staff and patients against any healthcare cyber mishaps.