It’s in inescapable fact: cybersecurity failures cost companies big money. And, it’s even worse when healthcare cybersecurity breaches occur.
Sure, the direct costs of incident response and recovery remain high. But, that’s only a fraction of the intangible costs of damaged business reputation, intellectual property theft, and lawsuits. That’s why healthcare is particularly susceptible.
You see, damages compound if the attack breaches regulated data.
Healthcare providers face a triple-whammy of regulated personal data, regulated healthcare data, and business interruptions, which all directly impact patient health.
Yet, inexpensive execution of fundamental IT and cybersecurity can prevent most major failures. Modest investments in time, tools, and services can secure users, endpoints, and networks to limit the impact of an employee’s mistake, an unknown vulnerability, or a motivated hacker.
Let’s take a look at why healthcare cybersecurity is so important, and three major ways to avoid its failure.
High Costs of Failure in the News
The importance of cybersecurity in general, and healthcare cybersecurity, in particular, was never more important than today.
IBM estimates the average total cost of a healthcare breach increased 9.4% from 2021 to 2022, reaching $10.1 million.
Overall, healthcare organizations also reported that:
- 83% suffered a breach or downtime
- It took 232 days to detect and 85 days to contain a breach
- 60% were forced to raise prices afterwards
These are sobering statistics.
In one example, Ambry Genetics suffered a data breach of 200,000 individuals.
In addition to paying for any data breach and recovery costs, they also ended up paying $12.75 million to settle the resulting lawsuit.
Just imagine how much the failures of healthcare cybersecurity will cost these organizations:
- Novant Health leaked the data of 1,362,296 people to Meta (aka Facebook)
- New York’s Empress Emergency Medical Services suffered a breach of 318,558 people’s information
- Hackers accessed 23,000 patient’s data from Texas’ Lubbock Heart & Surgical Hospital
- Ransomware attackers leaked data of 75,628 people from Pennsylvania’s Medical Associates of the Lehigh Valley
- 28,700 patients’ data was stolen from the Physicians’ Spine and Rehabilitation Specialists of Georgia
Unfortunately, healthcare providers must also face statistics that reveal that cyberattacks lead to delayed procedures and tests that contribute to:
- Poor patient outcomes (57%)
- Increased complications (50%)
- Increased patient mortality rates (20%)
Even beyond direct financial implications, when your patients’ health – even lives – are on the line, you can see how important solid healthcare cybersecurity remains.
1. Strong Healthcare Cybersecurity Requires Secure Users
Many cyberattacks by tricking employees into clicking on phishing emails or texts, such as this month’s fake monkey-pox data email.
As if phishing scams weren’t hard enough to avoid, the long shifts worked by healthcare professionals take their mental toll. When stretched thin & exhausted, both mentally and physically, even your most careful employees lose their edge.
However, basic security measures can create resilience against these attacks.
To prevent them, you can use tools and strategies like:
- Enhancing password requirements
- Using password managers
- Email security
- Anti-phishing training
- IT assistance against phishing
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA)
Even though recent attacks have shown that MFA can sometimes be intercepted, a combination of these strategies greatly reduces the chance for successful attacks.
2. Secure Your Endpoints
When employees do click on bad links, the successful phish often leads to ransomware attacks. This sad reality was recently demonstrated by Texas’ OakBend Medical Center, the Center Hospitalier Sud Francilien in France, and the Maryland Department of Health.
In fact, many attackers even specialize in targeting healthcare. For instance:
- Zeppelin ransomware merits an FBI warning
- Quantum Ransomware struck 657 healthcare entities
- The FBI warns against North Korea’s Maui ransomware attacks
If an employee clicks on a bad link, the best defense is a strong endpoint protection solution, preferably one that sends alerts, and can take automated action against attackers. Of course, protection is easiest on devices that have been fully patched and updated.
Unfortunately, healthcare cybersecurity environments contain far more Internet-of-Things (IoT) endpoints than the average environment. Even further, only 33% of healthcare providers maintain an inventory of the devices, while only 21% report security in place to defend them.
Although some modern devices, such as the SIGMA Spectrum Infusion Pump, receive updates, others do not.
In response, you’ll need to use alternative security approaches to protect them from being used in breaches or enslaved to a botnet.
3. Secure Your Networks
If a malware successfully compromises an endpoint, the damages will be limited.
The real damage happens once an attacker uses lateral movement to explore the network or uses compromised credentials to log into cloud resources.
Lateral movement can be detected by network security tools, network monitoring, and even by firewalls that detect the remote access from attackers. You can also constrain lateral movement through network segmentation.
Cloud environments can be protected through effective multi-factor authentication (including IP whitelisting), secure gateways, or by monitoring access logs.
Healthcare providers report that security gaps typically come from a lack of in-house healthcare cybersecurity expertise (53%) or sufficient staffing (46%).
The good news? Outsourcing easily solves both of these issues – often at a much lower cost than internal staffing.
Ideal Integrations, along with our cybersecurity division Blue Bastion, can help. Simply contact us at 412-349-6680, or fill out the form below, to receive a no-obligation outline of critical security steps you can apply to your organization today.
From basic security to IT infrastructure design, our experts can tighten security and lower the risks and damages from successful attacks.