Cybersecurity threats in healthcare settings have a tremendous cost in terms of human lives. Overcoming the challenges of applying cybersecurity measures in healthcare settings is critical to protecting healthcare data and ensuring the safety of patients.
The seemingly endless wave of cyberattacks that are crippling major companies and institutions around the world is destined to continue, acting as a very rude awakening to the growing need for significant investments in cybersecurity measures. And nowhere else is this more critical than in the healthcare industry, which frequently ranks high among the most gravely crippled of industries when affected by data breaches.
Compromising healthcare doesn’t just threaten to cause millions of dollars’ worth of damage; the nature of the industry means that human lives are often on the line. The resulting fallout in response to a data breach can lead to crippling bureaucratic delays that can threaten the lives of patients in dire need of treatment. One well-publicized breach not only forced a healthcare institution to shut down its e-mail and records database but also prevented it from providing crucial radiation treatment to cancer patients.
Indeed, a case can be made that healthcare institutions make especially tempting targets because of the urgency implied by the lives at stake. Investments in cyber security is thus a key component to look for in managed IT services for healthcare settings.
A Need for Priority
Healthcare providers deal in providing care and treatment to ill patients and must juggle several operational concerns, with much of their efforts being dedicated to providing quality of care that improves patient satisfaction and improves healthcare intervention outcomes. Most investments in healthcare technology are dedicated to improving diagnostic accuracy and operational effectiveness, which range from electronic health records to big data tools, all of which are heavily dependent on Internet connectivity.
Too often, however, many healthcare providers do not pay adequate attention to other aspects like cybersecurity. This can compromise the vast amount of information stored by these records. Indeed, the healthcare industry lags behind other sectors in terms of cybersecurity funding—healthcare facilities on average, only spend half of what other industries pay for. Most healthcare providers divert their attention to patient privacy, which, while important, is usually itself in danger of being compromised when other threats are taken into account.
In addition, the risks for breaches continue as the growing use of cloud, and mobile solutions open up new avenues for malware and ransomware infections and opportunities for data mining. Without the necessary precautions, the exposure to risks may render any benefit offered by cloud and mobile
Data breaches, meanwhile, are far from the only threat posed by cybercriminals. Recently, researchers have discovered that hacking into the networks of a medical institution can allow third parties to manipulate the data presented by diagnostic machines such as magnetic resonance imaging scanners, which would allow malicious parties to incorporate confounding data into sensitive medical imaging tests.
Even more frightening threats can emerge when factoring in implantable medical appliances. Hijacking internet-connected devices such as pacemakers have the potential to cause harm, and due to many circumstances, they are much more difficult to patch.
Another key challenge of bolstering cybersecurity in the healthcare workplace is the need to keep clinicians abreast of cybersecurity best practices. Healthcare workers perform in a high-stress environment and cannot maintain the same level of attention to network security. Thus, the important job of protecting cybersecurity should largely fall on a dedicated team of experts.
Any attempt to bolster the cybersecurity measures of healthcare should go hand-in-hand with providing protection and delivering swift care to patients. The massive interruptions caused by cybersecurity threats to patient care can lead to a rise of hospital mortality and an unacceptable decline in quality of care.
Although the costs of adding layers of security might be hefty in the short term, it is well worth the extra effort to curb the risks associated with data breaches and other cybersecurity risks. Having a cyber-security specialist on call to bolster security measures plays a critical part in maintaining operational integrity without causing massive interruptions to healthcare workflow.