In the wake of the pandemic, these institutions so vital to their communities have become highly vulnerable to such attacks, jeopardizing the core mission of patient care and well-being, and institution integrity. Cybersecurity is beyond IT management as it plays an integral role in all healthcare operations, government regulations, and overarching missions. Without robust measures in place, patient safety, privacy, and the overall quality of care and treatment are compromised.
The scale of cyber-attacks has been rapidly increasing, with ransomware attacks and email phishing being the main culprits, affecting millions of patients and healthcare institutions. Despite this, email phishing is the most common, easiest, and fastest way to breach security. Astonishingly, according to Earthweb and healthcare organizations, over 30 billion phishing emails are sent out daily, further exacerbating the vulnerability of these institutions.
Due to the attack's highly adaptable nature and ability to cause immediate significant damage, the numbers are expected to grow in the next upcoming years.
Medical records and sensitive personal data are the main targets for these attackers. Valuable information such as social security numbers, insurance information, credit card details, prescription medications, and other personal identifiers are exploited for financial gain. However, the consequences of such breaches extend beyond financial loss, potentially leading to identity theft and operational disruptions, impacting patients' lives and the institution's reputation. Attackers have more access to expensive and essential medical equipment and devices that can be sold for hefty profit margins. An institution's activities could be severely hampered or perhaps shut down because of such efforts.
Numerous factors contribute to these cyber security breaches, starting with a lack of staff members with digital literacy and training. Inadequate training and awareness led to severe human error because of the quick move to remote work during the pandemic, which left many staff members unprepared in terms of digital skills and navigating hospital systems. Additionally, the lack of financing and resources due to declining revenues and financial constraints, makes it challenging to provide enough funds for the implementation of effective cybersecurity measures. Hospitals must recognize that cyber security is just as important as life-saving surgery. Inadequate attention to this issue puts at risk the hospital's reputation, undermines compliance with regulatory responsibilities like HIPAA, and weakens patient trust and confidence in the institution's ability to protect patient's personal information. Preventive measures and interventions are required for the survival and protection of healthcare organizations from cybersecurity attacks.
Renowned cybersecurity expert and bestselling author, Amir Sachs is at the forefront of recognizing the need to act quickly in a fast-paced environment. For the healthcare industry, Blue Light IT can provide end-to-end IT management, strategic technology leadership, and specialized cybersecurity services. With an intimate knowledge of the early days of the internet and the art of hacking, Amir brings valuable knowledge to the table. He develops defenses against new hazards, with particular emphasis on cutting-edge developments in artificial intelligence.