Medical and health care businesses have unique cyber security needs — here’s a little bit about them

Last blog post, we identified a few different industries that find themselves more susceptible to cyber security threats. In general, these are industries where businesses are tasked with storing personal and sensitive information.

Hackers are not going to waste their time trying to obtain information that has no value — they target information that they can monetarily benefit from. By that criteria, the medical and healthcare industries are virtual gold mines for hackers.

 

Medical providers and healthcare companies are a target for hackers — here is why

Medical providers and healthcare businesses maintain extensive records on their clients, which include medical history, financial data and personal information. All of this is useful in all the wrong ways when it falls into the wrong hands.

This information can be used for anything from obtaining fraudulent prescriptions for drugs to tax fraud. In fact, we highlighted in our last post that a medical record is worth 10 times more than your own credit card information when it falls into the wrong hands.

The stakes are high for medical and healthcare companies, which is why cyber security should be a major priority. Unfortunately, the industry as a whole is not known for its stellar cyber security practices.

 

The unique hurdles faced by medical and healthcare companies

At their core, medical practices and healthcare companies are businesses. That means they face many of the same cyber security issues of any other small business. These might be anything from lack of proper training for the workforce, no accountability structure in place or lack of financial resources.

However, medical and healthcare operations do face industry-specific hurdles that make it even tougher for them to put effective cybersecurity protections in place. Below are a few brief examples.

  • Many medical providers use outdated legacy systems out of necessity. With a focus on enhancing patient care through cutting-edge medical equipment, they are not able to find room on the balance sheet to upgrade their software and systems as often as needed — if ever.
  • The healthcare industry isn’t comprised solely of giant health systems. Much of the country is served by small practices. The financial deficiencies of these practices are even greater than their much larger counterparts, making them soft spots for hackers.
  • The healthcare industry is interconnected in a unique way. A hacker could find access to the records of a small practice and gain access to data for much larger organizations because of this archeology.
  • Medical records are passed around far more than they used to be. The widespread adoption of electronic health records put an even larger target on the healthcare industry. With the advent of online patient portals and the desire of patients to have access to their own medical records, it’s only providing more risky exposure for this sensitive information.

Great consideration must be made for cybersecurity, and a comprehensive effort is essential. From necessary software (and software updates) and training for team members down to best practices for protecting passwords and other important cybersecurity measures.

While it might seem like wasted spending to invest in measures your business seemingly might not use, mitigating these disastrous scenarios is well worth the investment.