Digital technology has become an integral part of healthcare over the past two decades. Innovations like Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud computing, and telemedicine have led to improved patient care and better patient experience overall, but there's a caveat. Increased reliance on technology creates significant cyber risks for organizations in the healthcare sector.

The increased susceptibility to online attacks threatens day-to-day work and compromises confidential patient data. Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 in 2020, hospitals, medical research institutions, and other organizations in the healthcare sector have been battling a dramatic increase in cyberattacks.

Cyber Risks in the Healthcare Sector

But why the sudden increase in cyber incidents in the healthcare sector during the pandemic? Well, now more than ever, the healthcare sector is heavily dependent on e-health platforms and patient monitoring devices for remote care. Healthcare organizations are also allowing their employees to use personal devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops to access medical records remotely.

Tips for Institutions and Individuals to Stay Protected

Many organizations in the healthcare industry have expanded their network perimeters to accommodate remote work during the pandemic, which has led to weaker security controls. Consequently, there's been a dramatic increase in the frequency of malware (ransomware) attacks, man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks, cryptojacking, configuration vulnerabilities, and other cybersecurity risks in the healthcare sector.

Below, we look at how healthcare organizations and their employees can ward off these cyber threats while maintaining their ability to deliver critical care.

Protect Mobile Devices with Encryption

Smartphones, tablets, and laptops have brought convenience in retrieving, transmission, and collecting electronic health records. But, mobile devices have also introduced a new threat to the confidentiality of health information. These devices can be easily targeted by hackers and can also be easily lost or stolen. For that reason, all sensitive health data stored on mobile devices should be encrypted.

Use Security Tools

Using security tools such as antimalware will reduce the risk of a successful malware attack significantly. Another vital security tool to consider is a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Downloading a VPN for added security will keep your devices and home network secure. The app increases protection against a wide range of online threats, such as Men-in-the-Middle attacks.

Keep Your Software Up-To-Date

The cybersecurity threat landscape is constantly changing. That's why software vendors regularly release updates for their applications. Ensure that you apply patches as soon as they become available. Failure to apply security patches promptly will leave your system vulnerable to opportunistic attacks.

Cybersecurity Training for Staff

Phishing, spoofing, and other social engineering tactics seek to take advantage of staff members' lack of security awareness. Mandatory cybersecurity training keeps employees aware of the most common cyberattack tactics and how to ward off such attacks. Training also ensures that all employees know their role in keeping the company's data and systems secure.

Confidential patient data is worth a lot in the black market. Healthcare organizations store vast amounts of medical records, which make an ideal target for cybercriminals. These organizations must take steps to keep their data secure.