Data security is a critical issue for the healthcare industry. Data breaches are at an all-time increase. Healthcare cybersecurity has now become a notable treat in the healthcare sector. Healthcare professionals must regularly strive to avoid these security threats because of the particular clauses by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
The stolen medical records are of high value on the dark web, and the value even surpasses the credit card number and social security numbers. Averagely an individual can sell a patient’s medical record for up to $1000 online, which depends on the information held within the record.
Security threats key takeaway:
- Data breach in healthcare is around a 25% increase every year.
- Since 2014 healthcare security breaches have doubled.
- A staggering number of 1.80 data breaches of 500 or more records were reported alone in 2020.
- There are around 30 million data breaches reported in 2020.
- 2020 saw 92% of record breaches and 68% of data breaches.
Even though the data sold is highly profitable for the hacker, however, these cybercriminals seek to cause harm to the people. Begs the question of what happens to the stolen data once they are in the custody of a hacker.
Threats involved with the stolen patient data
The stolen data can lead to various crimes but two are the most common. First is the leveraging details of a patient of their particulars to a disease or terminal illness, secondly a long-term identity theft.
Extortion and coercion are some of the avenues often adopted by these criminals when they acquire healthcare-related information. Especially when the healthcare-related information reveals info regarding a patient’s terminal illness or sexually transmitted diseases.
When there is identity theft, the Social Security Administrations and the banks can contain the situation by asking the customer to change the details such as social security numbers and account passwords. However, that is not the case with healthcare information. This information cannot be altered and when falls into the wrong hands have a long time effect on the patient as they would be in a lifelong threat of extortion and coercion. Healthcare information is very profitable for a hacker and he needs to have various identifying information about a patient which can be easily obtained by the health record.
An incident took place where a man impersonating a Marine was stealing vehicles and had undergone multiple medical procedures. When the healthcare providers reached out to the victim for the bills which summed around $20,000. The victim tried to control the damage by removing his credit report, however, new medical charges appeared on every new billing cycle.
Why is Healthcare data prone to theft?
Data theft is so prominent in healthcare because of the worst cybersecurity practices that the healthcare industry still follows. Healthcare institutes are too dependent on encryption and firewalls which is a child’s play to hack for hackers today. The biggest challenge today with the healthcare sector is the governance of the institute concerning cybersecurity. Hospitals are run by physicians and IT deployment is just not the cup of tea for them. So most of the time cybersecurity, which involves a great deal of technology deployment is left on the back burners.
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During the deployment of technology in a healthcare institute with mobility, SaaS, and Cloud, the protection of the system lies within the encryptions, leaving the institute open for a wide-open attack.
How to minimize data breaches?
Imagine being a patient who has got their information stolen, then sold, and then used by someone to make forge claims in your name. This is disheartening and can influence future care decisions. A healthcare institute risks losing a patient when it fails to protect the patient’s health data. They just don’t lose a patient but also their reputation.
With the increasing number of security threats, it is suggested to the healthcare organizations to have a constant evaluation of their security practices. By adopting practices such as privileged access and application control organizations can prevent data theft which was not effective with encryptions.
Another practice that is highlighted is that the admin should not have fully-fledged rights at all times. Admins should have just-in-time administration rights, allowing the admins to have full rights according to the purpose or use. You see the admins are the first to get noticed by a hacker. Admins and other important accounts are targeted by hackers as they know they have access to the complete system. So this practice is mandatory to reduce data theft.
Endpoints are the point where security breaches are most likely to occur. The endpoint is where the data is collected and delivered. With the increasing number of IoT (Internet of Things) devices been added to the healthcare network the data security is most prominent. Having an endpoint security system in place is critical for the IT teams to battle these breaches.
The endpoint security system should be efficient as to capture all the phenomenons transpiring at the endpoint. The system should enable the organization to have historic data to understand the cause of any criminal activity taking place. The API assisting this system should be open so other security mechanisms and controls can be integrated to prevent cyberattacks and secure healthcare-related information.
Regular security awareness training should be given to the staff to prevent cyberattacks. Staffs are the ones who are most likely to report a security breach to the IT team.
If you are a patient remember that the law states that it is not necessary to give your social security number to any healthcare organization. This way you can prevent your data from falling into the wrong hands. Other than that it is up to the healthcare organizations to keep the patients data safe by implementing some sort of data security system.
Authors Bio- Nora is a copywriter and content writer who specializes in ghost blogging, email marketing campaigns, and sales pages. She works closely with B2C and B2B businesses providing digital marketing content that gains social media attention and increases search engine visibility.