Hospitals and health systems are a prime target for cybercriminals, and this won’t change anytime soon. That’s because healthcare organizations have massive stores of personally identifiable information (PII) that fetch high prices in the black market. And while healthcare networks have some level of protection, new cyberthreats are always coming out of the woodwork. The best way to stay ahead of these threats is to understand cybersecurity trends. Here are the top four you need to know in 2020.
Ransomware attacks persist
One of the most insidious threats plaguing the healthcare industry today is ransomware — a type of malware that locks victims’ systems and data, and demands a payment in untraceable Bitcoin for their release. Cybercriminals will threaten to either publicly leak or destroy sensitive data if companies don’t pay. WannaCry ransomware, for instance, uses these techniques to extort money from healthcare companies.
As for how ransomware spreads, there are two popular methods used by hackers. The first is by delivering the ransomware via spam and phishing emails designed to trick users into opening an attachment or clicking a link. The second method is much more technical: the malicious program exploits vulnerable web servers to infiltrate an organization’s network.
Healthcare organizations are especially vulnerable to these threats in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cybercriminals are exploiting the crisis to dupe healthcare employees with ransomware-laden emails that claim to offer medical equipment or lab testing services. What’s more, some organizations still rely on unsecured legacy systems, so the rate of ransomware attacks on healthcare is increasing.
Zero trust becomes critical for healthcare
Traditionally, perimeter security solutions like firewalls and intrusion prevention systems protect networks from a slew of cyberattacks. But these protections are insufficient for dealing with today’s healthcare cybersecurity challenges. Thanks to cloud computing and mobile devices, staff can access data and applications from different locations. Meanwhile, patients and stakeholders need secure access to company systems.
To address these challenges, healthcare organizations must adopt a zero trust approach to cybersecurity. This is an IT security model in which nothing within or outside the network perimeter is trusted unless it’s thoroughly verified.
In other words, organizations need to set stringent access restrictions on the users and devices attempting to gain access to company resources. Strong password policies and multifactor authentication are also crucial to ensure that users are who they say they are.
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AI creates new risks
AI technology has massive implications in the healthcare industry. Specifically, their ability to interpret large sets of data and automate tasks can streamline diagnoses and eliminate repetitive administrative work.
However, cybercriminals may use AI to their advantage by analyzing a company’s security systems and developing more sophisticated attacks. For example, there are malicious programs that are able to sidestep advanced security measures or auto-generate more convincing online scams. To counter this, healthcare will also need to invest in AI-based security tools.
IoT devices increase the likelihood of attacks
Internet of Things (IoT) devices like fitness trackers, ingestible sensors, smart insulin pens, and connected inhalers have opened a world of possibilities in the healthcare sector. When medical devices are connected to the internet, they can collect vital information that allows medical practitioners to effectively diagnose and care for their patients. With the introduction of ultrafast, low-latency 5G wireless networks, healthcare organizations can expect more IoT devices to be developed in the near future.
But bringing more of these devices into healthcare networks also poses a unique set of challenges. For one, every internet-connected device can be a potential entry point for cybercriminals if they’re not properly managed. Most IoT devices are shipped with weak default passwords and outdated security configurations, making them extremely susceptible to cyberattacks.
The other challenge is that many healthcare companies are ill-equipped to secure these devices. Some lack the budget for device management tools and advanced network security solutions to defend against IoT threats. And a large portion of healthcare companies don’t have dedicated IT personnel who can regularly monitor, patch, and secure IoT devices.
That’s why teaming up with a top-notch managed IT services provider (MSP) that specializes in serving the healthcare industry is so vital. Not only do they have cutting-edge security solutions, but they also have a team of cybersecurity experts who can protect healthcare organizations from the latest threats.
Intouch IT is one of those MSPs, and we can ensure your business is safe and sound. We provide multilayered cybersecurity services that’s HIPAA-compliant and customized to your organization’s needs. Call us today to protect your business.