The healthcare industry is no longer rotating the drain but is still in acute condition. While many organizations in healthcare have aspired at or made positive strides toward more privacy posture and robust cybersecurity, they still have a long way to go. Healthcare had the highest number of breaches recorded compared to other industries. Today, black hat hackers continue to go after patient healthcare data, and violations will only intensify, according to Business Insider. This blog post will explore common security issues that often plague healthcare organizations to exploit patient privacy or data integrity.
Security Issues of Healthcare Organizations
Security concerns often plague healthcare institutions, creating substantial hurdles in safeguarding confidential patient information and maintaining the seamless functioning of medical services. A major apprehension revolves around the susceptibility of electronic health records (EHRs) to cyberattacks, given that these records harbour a wealth of personal data. The growing utilization of interconnected medical devices further exacerbates this risk, as they can serve as potential gateways for hackers. Insider threats arising from employees or contractors can also compromise security. Healthcare organizations must grapple with the constant need to balance accessibility with robust security measures to safeguard patient data and maintain the integrity of healthcare services. Below, we explore some security issues that often plague healthcare organizations:
Ransomware continues to pose a significant threat to healthcare security organizations, which makes it one of the most prevalent cyberattacks. The severity of this threat became particularly pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting a joint cybersecurity advisory from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This advisory conveyed credible information concerning an imminent surge in cybercrime targeting U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers. The advisory stressed the importance of healthcare providers taking proactive measures to safeguard their networks from these threats. It highlighted the agencies’ recommendation that organizations refrain from paying ransom-like actions that fuel further criminal activities and often fail to guarantee the recovery of compromised data.
Denial-of-service attacks have long been a part of extortion-based tactics. In these attacks, cybercriminals disrupt services by rendering them offline rather than encrypting data and demanding a ransom for the decryption key. These attacks render various IT assets unavailable, like servers, websites, web applications, or IoT devices like networked medical equipment. Further, these attacks come in various forms, including SMBLoris and SYN Flood, which are essentially different approaches to flooding the target with excessive traffic to overwhelm the device, ultimately denying the intended service. Attackers have diverse motivations for conducting DDoS attacks. Sometimes, these attacks are politically motivated to grab attention for perceived injustices or political stances by knocking the target offline.
As healthcare providers increasingly embrace digital transformation, their reliance on web applications has grown significantly. Unfortunately, the healthcare sector faces a significant challenge, as many web applications exhibit security-related flaws. Hope Goslin, an analyst at Veracode, notes that healthcare organizations are making concerted efforts to adopt secure coding practices, especially in DevOps environments, like many other companies in today’s landscape. Encouragingly, healthcare web application security practices include regular vulnerability scans and adherence to a consistent scanning schedule. Notably, the healthcare industry ranks second regarding the median time to address security-related flaws. This diligence is essential because web applications remain a prime target for attackers due to the valuable enterprise data they house.
Trojan files masquerading as legitimate Microsoft (MS) files within healthcare systems data reveal a concerning presence of information stealing. This threat has been steadily advancing across all organizations in the past year, exhibiting a striking increase in persistence and volume, soaring by nearly 650 per cent compared to the previous year. It is our malware detection term for deceptive files posing as genuine Microsoft documents. Further, it is still being determined whether healthcare personnel were aware of the infiltration of such files into their work systems. Nevertheless, the presence of these deceptive files on machines crucial for processing sensitive records and accessing accurate patient data during critical moments could be better. Meanwhile, cryptominer infections, which we sometimes identify as Trojans, frequently manifest as a notable symptom: a slowdown in machine performance.
Data Breaches and Unauthorized Access
Data breaches in healthcare organizations are more than just a breach of privacy they can result in severe consequences for patients and the organizations responsible for their care. Healthcare data is among the most sought-after by cybercriminals due to its value on the black market and the sensitive nature of the information contained within patient records. Breaches can lead to personal information, including social security numbers, medical history, and billing information, being exposed. One primary cause of data breaches is unauthorized access. Whether it’s employees accessing information they shouldn’t or external hackers, it is a significant concern. Weak or compromised passwords, improper access controls, and inadequate monitoring can all contribute to unauthorized access issues.
Insider threats are security risks originating from within the healthcare organization itself. These threats can be intentional, like employees or contractors with malicious unintentional or intent, lack of awareness or stemming from negligence. Insider threats can cause significant damage, as those with authorized access often know the organization’s systems and data. Healthcare organizations must develop comprehensive security policies and procedures to address insider threats. They should implement strong access controls, conduct background checks on employees, and establish a security awareness and reporting culture. Regular training and monitoring can support detecting and preventing insider threats before they cause harm.
To Sum Up
The security challenges frequently afflicting healthcare organizations represent an ongoing and critical concern. With patient data and privacy at stake, the healthcare industry must remain vigilant in addressing these issues. Ransomware, denial-of-service attacks, web application vulnerabilities, Trojans, data breaches, and insider threats all demand proactive and robust security measures. Healthcare organizations must invest in comprehensive security strategies, training, and awareness to protect both their patients and their integrity. The ever-evolving threat landscape requires continuous adaptation and diligence to safeguard the vital information entrusted to them.