Even as the world still grapples with the impact of a global pandemic, cybercriminals have continued to exploit vulnerabilities in the healthcare industry. In 2022, 674 data breaches were reported, impacting about 49.8 million records. Healthcare cybersecurity threats will continue to be a concern in 2023 and beyond. With the growing number of attacks on healthcare organizations, it’s imperative for healthcare CIOs and IT staff to be aware of the latest trends in cybersecurity. Healthcare organizations must stay up to date with current security standards and know how to protect their organizations against these threats. Here are 5 of the healthcare industry’s biggest cybersecurity threats in 2023. 

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Data Breaches 

Data breaches are a significant threat to the healthcare industry because they can lead to the theft of sensitive patient information such as medical histories, insurance information, and social security numbers. This information can be used for identity theft, fraud, and other malicious purposes. A data breach can also damage the reputation of a healthcare organization and lead to loss of trust from patients.  

In 2022, the average cost of a healthcare data breach in the U.S. amounted to $10.1 million, according to IBM’s annual report. Additionally, the healthcare industry has had the highest average cost of a data breach compared to other industries for the past 12 years – making data breaches one of the biggest challenges for healthcare. Protected health information is more valuable to cybercriminals than credit card information because unlike stolen credit cards, a patient’s PHI cannot be changed, extending the longevity of the information. Cybercriminals can use this information to create fake insurance claims and illegally gain access to prescriptions for resale. 

Recommendation: Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is an effective tool for monitoring and responding to data sent via email and text messages. Having the proper tools and organizational policies in place are critical to protecting patient information. Additional security best practices include data encryption, secure networks and devices, and having a plan to respond to a data breach in the event one does occur. 

Ransomware Attacks 

Ransomware attacks can disrupt critical systems and prevent healthcare organizations from accessing important data. This can have serious consequences, including delays in care, lost revenue, and even harm to patients. In 2022, 70% of malware attacks stemmed from ransomware. The impacted hospitals could not access systems such as EHRs – putting patient care and safety at risk.  

Typically, ransomware infects systems and files when a user clicks on a malicious link, rendering them inaccessible until a ransom is paid. However, cybercriminals are constantly evolving tactics making ransomware one of the most dangerous forms of cyberattack. 

Recommendation: Strong passwords, authentication protocols, and employee training can be beneficial in preventing healthcare cybersecurity threats. Additionally, healthcare organizations should consider cybersecurity insurance as a safeguard should they become subjected to a ransomware attack. need to have a plan to respond to a ransomware attack, including backup copies of data and a secure way to communicate during system outages. 

Phishing Attacks 

Phishing attacks can be used to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information, such as patient records and financial data. These attacks often involve sending fake emails or creating fake websites that trick users into divulging login credentials or other personal information. For example, a cybercriminal may send an email posing as a system of software stating that a password is no longer valid and prompting a user to click on a link to reset it. Clicking on the link will send the cybercriminal the password, allowing them to access critical data. 

This can have severe consequences in the healthcare industry, including financial losses, reputational damage, and regulatory fines.  

Recommendation: Enable multi-factor authentication, which requires users to provide two forms of authentication before accessing systems. This adds an additional layer of security to systems and data, which helps prevent unauthorized access. 

Business Email Compromise Scams 

In 2021, business email compromise (BEC) scams accounted for nearly 2.4 billion in losses, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. These attacks often involve attackers compromising the email account of a high-level employee and using it to send fake requests for sensitive information or financial transfers. Cybercriminals will email employees and request an urgent task, such as transferring funds into an account.  

This can have serious consequences, including financial losses, reputational damage, and regulatory fines. Do BEC scams actually work? The critical element of this type of scam relies on manipulation and trust, rather than malware, to trick the victims into completing requested tasks. Employees are often eager to help a trusted colleague, making the scam extremely effective. 

Recommendation: Give employees access to a secure, HIPAA-compliant messaging platform for real-time communication. That way if a request via email seems suspicious or bypasses normal channels already in place, employees can quickly send a message to ask for clarification and alert other employees of the potential BEC scam. 

DDoS Attacks 

Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks operating by overwhelming network servers with a high volume of traffic, causing it to crash or become unavailable. This can prevent hospitals from accessing key systems and providing essential patient care. For healthcare organizations this can include accessing test results, appointment scheduling, and even viewing bed capacity. In addition to financial opportunities, many DDoS attacks target healthcare organizations for political, social, or ideological reasons.   

Recommendation: Healthcare organizations must enable safety measures such as firewalls, multifactor authentication VPNs, DLP, and DDoS protection. Other safeguards, such as having an offsite data backup, can help ensure business continuity between systems. 

Request a demo to learn how TigerConnect can help safeguard your healthcare organization in the event of a cybersecurity threat. 

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