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In this post we will talk about cybersecurity issues in healthcare, types of cyberattacks with examples, and the importance of cyber hygiene in general with Rafael Reis, an independent cybersecurity researcher from Brazil.
Why does cybersecurity matter in Healthcare? How to avoid the errors leading to cyberattacks?
According to the expert, we are dealing with super important information, a super sensible data that can touch emotionally and cause life changing effects, so we have no choice but to care about it. Let’s imagine a person with AIDS, and some hackers having this information can do a lot of damage to him or her by exposing the health condition to the public. And what if this person is a world celebrity?
What Happens During the Ransomware Attack?
Rafael gives an example of a cyber attack that affected a Brazilian group of hospitals last year, in 2021. It is not clear whether it was a wannacry case but the hospitals remained without functioning, totally paralised for a week or so. It is difficult to imagine a hospital that cannot perform its daily functions. Thinking about patients with urgent conditions is painful, like someone with dangerous allergy, heart attack, or other serious diagnoses. At the moment of cyber attack damage doctors and other hospital staff cannot access the patients’ medical history, it is impossible to find out which medicines he took and to wich he is allergic. It is dangerous for the people who need the health care services, but may be life damaging for the ones with serious cases. Because of the dependence from this very software and systems, from this doctor and this very hospital.
In the industry of healthcare, cybersecurity issues affect not only separate hospitals but governmental websites, like it was with Brazil’s Ministry of Health recently. A huge ransomware crisis made dissapear all the information on COVID-19 vaccination, and we are talking here of millions of the citizens’ records.
The Impact of Cyber Security Issues on Hospitals
Medical settiings like hospitals, laboratories, etc are taking our private sensitive data. There is a lot of tech involved in the hospitals’ and healthcare organizations’ workflow. Hackers can do a lot of things around these objects. They encrypt all the data that is related to allergies and heavy conditions, for instance. Then ask money back to make this info accessible again or they threaten that this data will be exposed. Moreover, cybercriminals can make some medical tech devices stop working. Or the access to medicine that can save someone’s life. That’s why healthcare organizations should do their best to protect themselves from cyberattacks. It is actually the top priority.
How Dangerous It May Be Without Any Protection Against Cybersecurity Threats In Healthcare?
Is there a possibility to recover patients’ medical data that had been attacked?
Having 12 years of expertise in cybersecurity field, Rafael points out that, for sure, it’s vitaly important to be prepared for any kinds of attacks. If not, you will maybe have your customers cheating about your company being unreliable, and you are losing them in the end. If you have no data encryption, no key, it is a very bad policy that must be improved as soon as possible.
That is why healthcare organizations should have data backups to recover the data in case of attacks. Back up is actually the first thing that has to be done as a preventive measure. Healthcare organizations as well as other types of business have to make it essencial in their policies in the best level possible.
Do Medical Devices Need Cybersecurity?
Certanly. What can doctors do when some crucial life saving device stops working? Like a medical technology that is helping to keep the heart beating in an intensive therapy room. The Yes answer i ssurely obvious here.
The Most Common Mistakes in Cyber Security in Healthcare Organizations
The most common mistake is when you think that a healthcare organization is the same as the normal organization, when you put these two concepts in the same line. But dealing with private data, personal conditions and emotional aspects makes this sphere extremely vulnerable and unique. It is like a lighter. Healthcare obliges you to be more prepared and empowered than anywhere else. It doesn’t mean that normal organizations shouldn’t have security teams, it just differs greatly.
It seems like most of the mistakes in cybersecurity and justice organizations are coming from human guilt. That is why the healthcare industry employees have to be prepared well enough to cope with their responsibilities effectively. They have to be able to recognize a fishing attack, for example, in the email they open or develop a habit of changing passwords, etc.
It is true that doctors have no time for cybersecurity researches. Educational webinars for medical professionals about cyber hygiene would be a great policy in any healthcare setting.
Cyber hygiene can be compared to personal hygiene. It is the same – you have to do the job like protecting your password, making it strong enough, changing it regularly. There are a lot of resources for medical workers to learn about cybersecurity. Apart from webinars and articles, IT technologists create educational programmes to help hospital staff in their preparation against attacks. These programmes are in a game format. A company is supposed to send emails with viruses and stuff like that not to affect your environment but create a situation where each one of the hospital team will act in a supposedly dangerous situation. Exact steps, very close to a real cyber attack so that a person has experience and is trained to react in a safe way feeling what a real cybersecurity threats in healthcare look like.
Is there any way to protect yourself from the technical side? You can do a lot for that! Above all goes respecting the privacy rules of your country, then good software updated to its newest version. Focus on your password protection, make it strong enough, do regular updates, make data back ups. If possible, have a security team, and put a lot of effort into proper cyber security hygiene education.
We recommend our podcast about cybersecurity threats in healthcare, and offer free consultations on how to protect your software and devices from cyber attacks. ZenBit Tech team delivers its development services worldwide. We enjoy helping our enthusiastic clients make their dreams come true! You are welcome to contact us anytime! Take care!