Defining Proactive Cybersecurity in Healthcare to Meet Rising Threats

Over the past few years, the healthcare sector has been leveraging more digital technologies than other industries. Those technologies enable healthcare professionals to continue to offer life-critical services and work more to enhance treatment and patient care. Meanwhile, in one hand, this has caused the sector to open for and lure more cyber adversaries as caregivers rely more on digital systems, on the other hand, it has created an attack surface for cybercriminals.

Cyberattacks are a snowballing threat across almost every sector. For healthcare, cyberattacks are greater concern as these attacks cannot just threaten the security of health systems and information but also the health and safety of patients.

In a study, almost two-thirds of healthcare organizations across the world have experienced a cyberattack in their lifetime, while 53 percent were attacked within the last 12 months. The study further revealed that data breaches in healthcare resulted in an average of 7,202 patient and employee records lost or stolen. This cost an average price tag of US$1.8 million from the disruption of normal operations. It is also reported that the most common attacks were phishing with 68 percent, malware with 41 percent and web-based with 40 percent.

So, as cyberattacks are becoming more targeted, sophisticated and severe, healthcare professionals need to consider and deploy strategic approaches to meet these challenges.

Here are some ways the sector can safeguard themselves from potential cyberattacks.

Leveraging Proactively Secured Medical Devices

Medical devices can pose severe cybersecurity and patient safety concerns as most cyberattack activities involve to contract medical devices. Also, security breaches can occur anywhere if there is a connected electronic device. Medical devices like CAT scans, MRI machines, anything plugged in such as pacemakers and insulin pumps, create security vulnerabilities that can be unheeded in standard hospital cybersecurity procedures. Now, most healthcare centers are demanding secure medical devices before they purchase.

Establishing Cybersecurity Culture

One of the most challenging aspects of imparting a security focus among users is overcoming the perception of people who always think it can’t happen with them. However, some researches showed how difficult it is to raise awareness in people about threats and vulnerabilities that can threaten the information they work with daily. Creating a cybersecurity culture in healthcare, hospitals must make security at a core value, create a breach response plan, always make back up of data and change credentials regularly.

FDA Regulatory Guidance

In October 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) drafted a premarket submission, Premarket Cybersecurity Guidance, which intended to provide recommendations to industry regarding cybersecurity device design, labeling, and the documentation that FDA recommends be included in premarket submissions for devices with cybersecurity risk. With this guidance, device vendors will need to implement cybersecurity best practices spanning both technical and process interventions. Thus, to meet regulatory needs, medical device vendors will require improved processes, along with the use of security technology to deliver the best possible security.

Connectivity and Non-Hospital Based Care

Advances in technology and societal changes in the last few years have led to a rapid shift in traditional care processes. This has also caused the relationship between patients and doctors and enabled remote patient care. These changes have been great for patients and providers in some way as they allow ongoing monitoring of patients even when patients are not able to visit hospitals or doctors are not available in the healthcare delivery organization. But the increasing use of connected devices outside the hospital can create vulnerabilities while sharing and sending data could be contracted by hackers.