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  • Writer's pictureJohn Dempsey

Preserving Patient Trust: Crafting a Robust Cybersecurity Shield for Healthcare

The ransomware attack that targeted medical firm Change Healthcare has been one of the most disruptive in years, crippling pharmacies across the US, including those within hospitals, and leading to serious disruptions to the nationwide delivery of prescription drugs. Ransomware attacks are growing, and healthcare is a frequent target. At least 141 hospitals were directly affected by Ransomware Attacks in 2023 according to the Health Sector Coordinating Council Cybersecurity Working Group.

 

In an era dominated by technological advancements, healthcare organizations find themselves at the crossroads of innovation and vulnerability. The digitization of patient records, the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI), and the interconnectedness of medical devices have revolutionized healthcare but have also exposed organizations to unprecedented cybersecurity threats. In this blog post, we delve into crucial considerations for healthcare entities, emphasizing the urgent need for a proactive and comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.

 

Revisiting Cybersecurity Teams and Investments

As healthcare organizations plan their budgets, a significant portion must be allocated to improving cybersecurity measures. However, it's not just about the financial commitment; having the right leadership and a skilled IT security team is equally vital. Adopting a holistic and reasonable approach to cybersecurity requires strategic planning and a proactive stance. Investing in training and hiring experts ensures that your organization is equipped to face evolving cyber threats head-on.

 

Secure Communications for a Complex Healthcare Regulatory Environment

In the race to adopt the latest software and network devices, healthcare organizations often overlook the potential security risks introduced by complexity. Each new piece of software and every additional network device creates a new attack vector for cybercriminals. Simplifying the IT environment not only enhances overall efficiency but also reduces the surface area vulnerable to cyber threats. Adopting a minimalist approach to technology can significantly strengthen cybersecurity defenses, but it has to be compliant.

 

HIPAA requires healthcare providers and their technology partners to comply with strict security and privacy standards for Protected Health Information (PHI and ePHI), i.e., medical histories, test results and other sensitive patient information. The industry-leading solution is NetSfere as an affordable, easy-to-install and deploy HIPAA-compliant, secure end-to-end encryption mobile messaging solution that gives healthcare providers the tools to convert communication and collaboration into improved patient care and more efficient workflows.

 

Addressing Software Vulnerabilities - Patching for Security

A glaring issue in the cybersecurity landscape is the persistence of software vulnerabilities that remain unpatched. Healthcare organizations must prioritize timely patching to prevent exploitation by cybercriminals. Ransomware attacks, in particular, exploit delayed patching, making it imperative for organizations to establish robust patch management processes and prioritize the closure of known vulnerabilities. And Patches and software updates only fix what’s known. One of the most common and most difficult flaws to protect against is a zero day vulnerability. Companies such as Virsec and Check Point Solutions specialize and automate zero-day exploit prevention.

 

Confronting the Insecure Present of AI

While the future potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare is promising, the present reality is riddled with security concerns. Instead of merely discussing the future possibilities, healthcare organizations must focus on addressing the current vulnerabilities associated with AI implementation. This involves thorough risk assessments, continuous monitoring, and the development of safeguards to protect patient data from malicious actors.

 

 

AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack called the cyberattack “the most serious incident of its kind leveled against a U.S. health care organization.”

 

 

 

The cybersecurity landscape for healthcare organizations is evolving rapidly, requiring a proactive and multifaceted approach. By revisiting cybersecurity investments, addressing present AI insecurities, simplifying IT environments, and preparing for breaches, healthcare organizations can fortify their defenses against cyber threats. As the guardians of sensitive patient data, it's not just a responsibility but an ethical imperative to ensure the highest standards of cybersecurity in the healthcare sector.

 

  

 

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