Cyber Security Threats to Medical Offices
Cyber security threats to medical offices, health care organizations and patient safety are real. Health information technology, which provides critical life-saving functions, consists of connected, networked systems and leverages wireless technologies, leaving such systems more vulnerable to cyber-attack. Recent highly publicized ransomware attacks on hospitals, for example, necessitated diverting patients to other hospitals and led to an inability to access patient records to continue care delivery. These cyber-attacks expose sensitive patient information and lead to substantial financial costs to regain control of hospital systems and patient data. From small, independent practitioners to large, university hospital environments, cyber-attacks on health care records, IT systems, and medical devices have infected even the most hardened systems.
Medical Offices and Health Care Organizations Need To Make Cyber Security a Priority
Given the increasingly sophisticated and widespread nature of cyber-attacks, the health care industry must make cyber security a priority and make the investments needed to protect its patients. Like combating a deadly virus, cyber security requires mobilization and coordination of resources across myriad public and private stakeholders, including hospitals, IT vendors, medical device manufacturers, and governments (state, local, tribal, territorial, and federal) to mitigate the risks and minimize the impacts of a cyber-attack. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Health Care and Public Health (HPH, Health Sector, Health Care Industry) sector are working together to address these challenges. Cyber security threats to medical offices happen more often then you think.
Biggest Cyber Security Threats To Medical Offices and Health Care Organizations
Being aware of cyber security threats to medical offices can be helpful in the fight against data breaches.
- E-mail phishing attacks
- Ransomware attacks
- Loss or theft of equipment or data
- Insider, accidental or intentional data loss
- Attacks against connected medical devices that may affect patient safety
Download our Health Industry Cyber Security Practices Guide
This guide reviews:
- E-mail protection systems
- Endpoint protection systems
- Access management
- Data protection and loss prevention
- Asset management
- Network management
- Vulnerability management
- Incident response
- Medical device security
- Cyber security policies
The entire publication considers the recommendations made by HHS divisions including, but not limited to, the Assistant Secretary for Legislation, the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Food and Drug Administration, the Office for Civil Rights, the Office of the Chief Information Officer, the Office of the General Counsel, the Office of the Inspector General, and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, as well as guidelines and practices from DHS and NIST
Why Should You Worry About Cyber Security and Take Action Now?
Health care organizations are committed to providing the very best care to their patients. While the thought of risking patient safety to a cyber-attack is terrifying for any health care professional, it can be difficult to justify investments in cyber security when there are pressing opportunities to invest in equipment, materials, training, and personnel, which more visibly relate to patient care. Cyber security threats to medical offices need your attention
According to a study from IBM Security and the Ponemon Institute, the cost of a data breach for health care organizations rose from $380 per breached record in 2017 to $408 per record in 2018.8 Across all industries, health care has the highest cost for data breaches.
Most health care personnel are experts at identifying and eradicating viruses in patients, not computers. Cyber security has expanded the scope of patient wellness to include protecting the technology, networks, and databases that enable uninterrupted and accurate patient care. This includes securing computer systems, protecting data and training personnel to be cyber-vigilant.
Cyber attacks disrupt health care personnel’s ability to provide life-changing and life-saving capabilities.
Can a Cyber Attack Happen To My Medical Office?
It is tempting for those who own a health care practice or are part of a small-to-medium–sized health care organization to think that cyber attacks only affect large hospitals and health care organizations. The reality is that cyber-attacks are indiscriminate and adversely affect healthcare practices of every size and specialization. The IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2017, a recent study designed to track cyber security incidents around the globe, identified the top-targeted cyber attack industries, stating: “It is worth noting that the health care industry, which fell just outside the top five in terms of records breached, continued to be beleaguered by a high number of incidents. However, attackers focused on smaller targets, resulting in a lower number of leaked records in that industry.”
The “smaller targets” mentioned in the report may include small or medium-sized organizations. Hackers look for targets that require the least time, effort, and money to exploit. Do not make the mistake of thinking that your practice, no matter how small, is not a target for indiscriminate cyber-attacks. Malicious actors will always exist. Whether you are a small-practice physician or the chief information security officer (CISO) of a large health care entity, your job is to make it difficult for these attackers to succeed.
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