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article image 3-1-22.jpgWhy is the Healthcare Industry Riddled with Cyber Breaches?

March 1, 2022

A hospital should be one of the safest places to be, but in reality, there are many risks lurking in healthcare facilities. In addition to the risk that hospital acquired infections can pose to one’s health, there is a widespread pattern of cybersecurity breaches that may put personal information at risk, too. All of the invasive questions that are answered on patient intake forms should be safe from prying eyes, but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. This prompts the question — why is the healthcare industry vulnerable to cyber-attack, and why do cyber breaches happen in healthcare so frequently?

Inadequate Data Protection

At any given moment, a patient’s personal data is just a few clicks away. This isn’t a problem if it’s guarded sufficiently, but in many cases, it can be accessed by nearly any staff member who wants to see it. Receptionists, nurses, physician’s assistants, doctors, and billing specialists may all have access to data like a patient’s social security number, address, date of birth, and phone number. The more accessible this information is, the less secure it is. Healthcare facilities must take steps to limit access to patients’ sensitive data.

Vulnerabilities In Software

Another common culprit that may be to blame for healthcare data breaches is the prevalence of vulnerabilities in medical software. Bugs, flawed authentication, and security misconfigurations are just a few software problems that can cause sensitive data to be exposed. Healthcare facilities often rely on dozens of software applications, so the risk is high. A healthcare insurance policy can mitigate this liability, though. It’s important to find a healthcare insurance policy that includes coverage for cyber-attacks.

Phishing Email Campaigns

Phishing attacks are one of the most common causes of data compromise across every industry, and healthcare is no exception. Phishing attacks are typically carried out by a data thief who sends out a fraudulent email containing a link that solicits sensitive information from the recipient. Healthcare professionals who fall victim to these attacks may disclose their login credentials which can then be used by the criminal to surreptitiously access privileged patient data.

Distributed Denial of Service

Distributed denial of service attacks usually serves as a means to an end when targeted toward a healthcare facility. These attacks can take several forms, but they are most often launched when an antagonist programs bots to flood a server with an overwhelming amount of traffic. Efforts are typically spread across multiple machines and sustained until the target’s server goes offline. A DDoS attack in and of itself does not necessarily compromise data, but it can be used as part of a bigger campaign. If a DDoS attack is directed at a healthcare facility, for example, it can be used to divert attention from data theft. ◼


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