For such an important in industry, Healthcare cybersecurity is surprisingly lacking, being able to be compromised by even a small basic cyber attack.
It goes without saying that this has to start changing soon. Not only is the hospital at risk but also their many patients. In order to work through the issue we need to answer these two questions: Why do hospitals and other healthcare operators have such poor cybersecurity? What can we do to fix it?
We hope to answer these questions thoroughly below.
There are other industries in the healthcare field that have security problems, none of them come close to hospitals.
The crux of the issue is that 83% of hospitals are using outdated software on all of their important operating systems and devices! Around 25% of these hospitals are using unsupported versions of Linux or older versions of Windows XP.
While this may not seem particularly damaging to the average person, someone versed in cybersecurity can understand how this is a massive risk for hospitals.
What one needs to keep in mind is cybersecurity is essentially an arms race. Criminals figure out weaknesses in computer operating systems. Companies learn about the new ways criminals attack, and they upgrade their systems to counter.
A good way to describe how cybersecurity works is an "arms race". Hackers and companies have a back and forth battle where weaknesses are found then blocked on their operating systems.
These operating systems are often vital for basic function in these hospitals and when they aren't updated there's a problem. Now criminals are left unopposed and can ravage a hospitals systems taking whatever they want. They're now an easy target.
What's particularly upsetting is that it only gets easier for hacks to happen as time goes on. Skill isn't even a requirement for these attacks as they can just copy other basic methods that an outdated system has no chance to detect.
An old and vulnerable OS will continue to cause numerous other issues until it's updated.
The problems with the OS make up the majority of problems with healthcare cybersecurity. Hackers can take advantage of these minor vulnerabilities and suddenly you've lost control of your system.
While this problem isn't unique to an outdated OS, it does make an attack that much easier giving criminals ample opportunity to steal data or compromise important systems.
This doesn't just open up hospitals to financial and legal problems. In many cases, a criminal could also use this power to hurt patients. If data is changed or medical machines altered, a patient could be put in great danger.
On top of the many financial and legal costs this brings hospitals, it can also potentially hurt their patients as well. Data can be changed or machines altered that can endanger them greatly.
This also leads into another form of attack criminals often use in tandem with hacking outdated operating systems: ransomware.
Additionally, criminals attacking have another means of damaging you: ransomware.
Ransomware is what criminals use to take control of a computer system and hold it hostage. If downloaded, they can take important files and then lock them away from the user. Then they demand money in order to get access back to their files.
It may seem farfetched but this problem is very real. Recently, there was a group of hospitals that were attacked with this method.
They lost access to practically all computer-based systems from the attack. Fortunately, there weren't any deaths caused by the delays but the possibility was certainly there.
As we said before, having a weak OS can make it much easier for hackers to get this software on to your computers. This risk can even extend to the employees too by accidentally downloading the ransomware themselves!
Needless to say, something needs to be done.
Now how do we improve the cybersecurity in the healthcare industry? You'll need to get strong IT. Unfortunately, there are many hospitals that don't even have the basics.
While hospitals are filled with medical experts, that expertise doesn't exactly translate to top-tier security. Hospital admins are generally unsure where to start.
Thankfully, when you get a strong IT manager, like one provided by Bulletproof IT, your problems are fixed. Our security experts can assist in finding the problems and building a system to combat them.
Regardless, whether you're hiring a managed service provider or not, here's some of the basics that all hospitals should adopt to improve their security.
- Only use an OS that gets updated regularly
- Keep access to data and important programs to as few people as possible
- Have authorization steps for when employees download programs
- Keep your data backed up! That way it's safe in case your computers get compromised.
Cybercriminals will continue to assault this industry until they security is improved. Either you need to start taking the different measures to protect the business or you should hire an expert who can help you get what you need!