Rising Issues in the Healthcare Sector

In 2020-2021, the healthcare industry has been greatly tested in response to not only one but two crises. COVID-19, which is wildly televised and known issue, but most are unaware of the cybersecurity threats. Healthcare has drastically changed in the past few years and along with that is the rise in security concerns. 

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, remote healthcare services expanded exponentially as an alternative to hospital visits, allowing non-critical patients to receive medical attention while sheltering in place. Having sensitive data accessed across numerous devices, including servers, desktops, laptops, mobile devices, tablets, and any kind of specialized equipment used to input medical record, increases the opportunity for a cyber-attack. 

According to UMass Boston the five biggest healthcare security threats are:

  • Ransomware is an ever-evolving form of malware designed to encrypt files on a device, rendering any files and the systems that rely on them unusable. Malicious actors then demand ransom in exchange for the decryption key. 
  • Theft of Patient Data is an ongoing concern due to the fact that medical identity information is significantly more valuable than credit card numbers or social security numbers. According to the World Privacy Forum, the former has a street value of around $50 compared to the street value of $1 for the later.
  • Phishing is the most popular means for attackers to gain entry into a system. It can then be used to install ransomware, crypto mining scripts, spyware, or code to steal data. As per the FBI, phishing was the most common type of cybercrime in 2020 and nearly doubled from incidents in 2019.
  • Cryptojacking is the clandestine hijacking of systems to mine cryptocurrencies without consent. The healthcare system is usually targeted for this because it is critical to keep them running and the longer the system runs, the more the criminal can make. However, this malicious attack is meant to stay hidden and will cause performance issues and become quite costly. 
  • Hacked Devices in the healthcare industry is a major threat because many medical devices are extremely vulnerable to an attack. The crux of the of the problem is that many medical devices were not designed with cybersecurity in mind.

Tips to Minimize the Threat

Healthcare organizations are become increasingly targeted for cyber-related crimes due to the value and large quantities of data. However, there are ways to if not prevent the threat completely to minimize it. 


  • Implementing user education and conducting security awareness training so your employees are equipped to recognize and report phishing. Have trained team of IT specialist that are able to patch vulnerabilities and disable macros to minimize the risk and impact of a ransomware outbreak.
  • Make sure your employees understand HIPAA requirements and are taught about when they can transmit sensitive data to patients, their guardians, and other healthcare providers, pharmacies, and insurance providers. 
  • By implementing stronger authentication solutions that adhere to modern security standards organizations can better prevent personnel accessing patient data to prevent personal identifiable information theft and other security breaches.  
  • It is important to have good user behavior analytics, verification tools, and security logs to detect unusual activity, including logs from your endpoint management and endpoint security tools. 
  • Protect all endpoints in your infrastructure by using security platforms that have appropriate protections and management capabilities that meet your needs, rather than ones that focus primarily on the perimeter of a hospital or clinic. 

The world we live in has an increasing number of devices connected to the internet, and each one presents a pathway to information. It is important to understand the threats and know what you can do to help prevent them. Remember knowledge is power. Healthcare security will only grow more important in the coming years. Now more than ever, medical organizations must be vigilant in establishing safeguards against online threats and have a solid understanding of the risks and protections available.