The healthcare industry has been targeted by hackers for many years. This should come as no surprise. Hospitals and medical offices are seen as prime targets for cybercriminals. The data that these businesses handle is highly sensitive and incredibly important to ensure proper delivery of care. Having the data fall into the wrong hands or be deleted forever would a devastating loss for any healthcare business as well as the patients they serve.
As a result, those in the healthcare field have to take cybersecurity incredibly seriously. This includes being educated and up-to-date on the latest cybersecurity risks for the healthcare industry. With 2021 being a record-breaking year for cybersecurity incidents, 2022 looks to be another challenging year in the world of cybersecurity.
Here are some of the top risks facing those in the healthcare industry.
Continuing Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware has been a top concern in the healthcare industry for many years and will likely continue to be a concern for years to come. Each year that goes by sees an increase in ransomware attacks. For example, 2019 to 2020 saw a 300% increase. Why is ransomware so popular among hackers?
Perhaps the main reason for the growth in ransomware is because it can be extremely lucrative for criminals. As businesses have more and more valuable digital data, it becomes easier to exploit the value of that data. For a healthcare business in particular, the potential of having files encrypted and lost forever could be devastating. As a result, businesses are willing to pay ransoms which continue to become more and more expensive.
Even businesses that commit to not paying ransoms have had to assess that position as hackers use other forms of extortion to squeeze out payment from their victims. This includes threatening to leak stolen data or use the data to extort suppliers and customers.
General System Vulnerabilities
One of the biggest cybersecurity risks in healthcare businesses is the risk of simply having unpatched software and/or hardware on the network. Hackers have become very clever in finding ways to gain access to networks and all it can take is one vulnerability for them to wreak havoc.
Maintaining a regular update schedule to keep operating systems and installed software programs can be one of the most effective ways to prevent costly cybersecurity incidents. This also includes updating software on other connected network devices when available. Hackers want soft targets that don’t require a lot of work in order to earn a payday.
Of course, with so many devices and pieces of software in use, many businesses find it challenging to ensure everything is up-to-date. It’s one reason why a lot of small and medium-sized businesses are turning to managed IT services to help stay on top of the rapidly changing cybersecurity and technology landscape.
The Emotet botnet was originally discovered way back in 2014 which feels like a lifetime in the technology world. Since, it grew to become one of the largest malicious networks in the world. Worst of all, devices and organizations infected may not realize they are a part of a massive international network of devices helping cybercriminals launch attacks. These attacks could include delivering malware or participating in DDOS (distributed denial of services) attacks against other networks or organizations.
The botnet was disrupted in the second half of 2021 but it doesn’t mean that the botnet is gone forever. In fact, it was so successful over the years that hackers are trying to make it stronger and able to avoid disruptions like the concerted international effort that brought it to a halt in 2021.
Whether the Emotet botnet gets back up and running or something similar takes its place, these botnets will always pose a problem for healthcare businesses. A DDOS attack, for example, could bring the entire business to a standstill. This means that payroll, patient care, accounts receivable, and almost every facet of the businesses fails to work as intended.
There are ways to combat becoming a part of a botnet or becoming the victim of a botnet used by cybercriminals. Great employee education to spot phishing attempts, for example, is a wonderful starting point. Practicing good digital hygiene is important as is ensuring regular updates are completed on all devices.
Stay Ahead of Cybersecurity Threats
It’s almost impossible to say what the next big cybersecurity threat may be. The code may not even be written yet as this article is posted. However, some general habits can help businesses avoid becoming victims.
Staying ahead of cybercriminals requires a lot of work these days which is why many businesses trust Perry ProTECH for managed IT services. Their team of experts manage cybersecurity risks by taking on some of the most important IT responsibilities. To learn more, contact Perry ProTECH today.