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Cybersecurity Issues in Healthcare


The healthcare industry is one of the primary targets of cyberattacks because it possesses high volumes of sensitive information. As a result, cybersecurity issues in healthcare are rife, so organizations need to deploy technology that provides protection against cyberattacks.

Healthcare cybersecurity becomes more complicated as organizations use new technology and internet-connected devices to offer greater levels of patient care, save lives, and cure diseases. Healthcare data is an increasingly attractive target for cyber criminals, which means hospital systems and medical databases continue to suffer data breaches.

Attackers understand that any period of disruption can put human lives at risk, so they increasingly attempt to cause disruption and demand ransom fees from organizations. It is therefore crucial to secure all devices and safeguard medical data by understanding how to prevent cyberattacks in healthcare.

Understanding HIPAA Compliance for the Healthcare Industry

The importance of cybersecurity in healthcare is addressed by the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA is a data privacy regulation that aims to protect the privacy and security of health information and prevent sensitive health data from being disclosed without the consent or knowledge of a patient. In addition, it enables organizations to ensure compliance by establishing national standards for the protection of health data. 

Before the introduction of HIPAA in 1996, there were no requirements for organizations to protect health data. HIPAA came in as new technologies evolved and the industry moved to electronic systems, which were at significant risk of healthcare cyberattacks. 

HIPAA is now crucial to securing patients’ electronic protected health information (ePHI) and electronic health records (EHR), as well as new healthcare devices, systems, and technology.

The increasing Cybersecurity Issues in the Healthcare Industry

The impact of cyberattacks on healthcare is shown by the wide range of cybersecurity issues the industry now faces. Major healthcare cyberattack threats include:

Phishing Schemes

The healthcare industry is increasingly targeted by phishing attacks, which involve a cyber criminal purporting to be a genuine sender and targeting users through messaging mediums like email, Short Message Service (SMS), and social media. 

Phishing attacks directly target users and attempt to dupe them into opening malicious attachments or hyperlinks, enabling the attacker to steal data like account numbers, financial information, and passwords. Suffering a data loss through a phishing attack can violate HIPAA compliance because it results in data being shared with third parties without a user’s consent.

Use of Internet-of-Things (IoT) Devices

IoT is seeing a massive rise in the number of internet-connected devices. These are particularly prominent in the healthcare industry, with devices like heart rate monitors, imaging devices, internet-connected smart inhalers, and smart thermometers. Therefore, it is critical to secure all IoT devices that connect to the internet to prevent hackers from accessing and exploiting the data they generate. 

Insider Threats

Insider threats often occur through disgruntled employees leaking or selling data and sabotaging corporate systems. However, they can also be caused by employee negligence resulting in data being leaked or networks and systems being vulnerable to cyberattacks. 

Many cyber crimes in healthcare can be avoided by providing appropriate training on how to prevent data theft, prevent vulnerabilities like misconfigured servers, and spot signs of a cyberattack.

Use of Telemedicine and Remote Connectivity

Online consultations have increased dramatically, mainly due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. This remote connectivity is likely to continue, which increases requirements for secure access for healthcare. But it also increases the risks of healthcare cyberattacks if organizations’ telemedicine solutions are not secure. 

Cloud-based Environments

Healthcare organizations are increasingly migrating toward cloud-based services, such as data storage solutions and insecure public Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) systems. It is crucial to only work with trusted cloud providers and ensure all cloud services are secure and only accessible by authorized users. 

Secure Before It is Too Late

The healthcare industry’s databases and research facilities contain high-value assets that are increasingly going digital. This creates new opportunities for hackers to target sensitive data that offers a high profit margin. 

For example, medical records have sold for up to $1,000 on the dark web, according to Experian researchIBM insight found that the average breach costs healthcare organizations $6.5 million. Therefore, it is vital to prevent data theft and maintain HIPAA compliance by deploying a robust cybersecurity policy as quickly as possible.

How Fortinet Can Help Ensure Cybersecurity for Healthcare

Fortinet’s healthcare commitment is to help medical organizations keep their data, devices, employees, patients, networks, and systems secure at all times. Fortinet addresses cybersecurity issues in healthcare with an integrated platform that protects organizations’ entire IT architecture, from the cloud to data centers and lifesaving devices. It also enables medical firms to consolidate networking, security, and surveillance into one system, which offers centralized control and visibility of data and networks and helps them fight cyberattacks.

Fortinet FortiGate next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) and industry-leading threat detection are crucial to detecting and preventing threats as quickly as possible. Fortinet also provides a comprehensive solution to insider threats through robust identity and access management (IAM), which is supported by deception technology, intent-based segmentation, network access control (NAC), and user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA).