Healthcare Cybersecurity - Challenges and Security Protocols

  • Healthcare cybersecurity means protecting electronic data from unauthorized use, access, and disclosure. There are three main goals of cybersecurity and these are to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information usually known as the CIA triad. Healthcare cybersecurity can be made sure by the medical institutes if they adhere to know your patient compliance. 

    Introducing Know Your Patient (KYP)

    The process which verifies the identity of patients to make sure no fraudster can use it to gain benefits is called know your patient. KYP also possesses patient age verification measures to make sure that no minor can claim access to prohibited drugs that can have an adverse effect on their health. 


    Healthcare cybersecurity is tightened across this sector to discourage cybercriminals from manipulating healthcare for their use. Now let’s have a look at what the term cybersecurity holds for healthcare and what are the best healthcare practices in it. 


    What is the meaning of Healthcare Cybersecurity?

    In this age of the electronic world, the normal functioning of organizations and protecting the sensitive credentials of patients depends upon healthcare cybersecurity. Various healthcare organizations have specialized information systems like electronic healthcare records (EHR), digital prescribing systems, clinical decision support systems, electronic physician order entry systems, and practice management support systems. 

    Challenges to Healthcare Cybersecurity 

    Furthermore, numerous electronic devices possessing the Internet of Things like air conditioning systems, elevators, ventilators, smart heating, remote patient monitoring systems, infusion pumps and many more must be protected as well. Along with all this, the industry has the following assets in terms of healthcare cybersecurity;


    • Physical Security to an Electronic Device 


    Physical unauthorized access to any electronic device like a computer may result in its exploitation by a fraudster. There are techniques that are used to physically hack a device. Once gotten controlled physically by any criminal, all the healthcare cybersecurity technical measures would be ultimately defeated. Physically safeguarding a device is as important as securing its operations and data. 

    An example is leaving a laptop unattended while traveling or working in different locations. Careless behavior may lead to the loss or theft of a laptop. It can result in the device being utilized by the criminal for their benefit. 



    • Phishing Attacks 


    Almost all the communication within the organization happens through emails. All the patients’ medical data, their financial history, previous treatments, and records of their medicines are kept safe in the emails. Therefore, email holds an important place in healthcare cybersecurity. 

    Phishing is the means through which most of the crimes in the healthcare sector have taken place. Most of the time, users are manipulated to open a malicious link or open a malicious attachment inside the phishing email that affects their system with malware. This malware may spread to other computers. It is a very favorite act of bad actors into taking the desired action like disclosing personal information by getting users into clicking malicious links or opening malicious attachments and ultimately destroying healthcare cybersecurity. 


    • Legacy Systems 


    It is the type of system that is no longer supported by its makers. Legacy systems might include operating systems and applications and more such things. The critical challenge in healthcare cybersecurity is that many organizations have an important legacy system footprint. But it is not supported by its manufacturers which means there are no upgrades and security patches available anymore. 

    Medical institutes usually have legacy support systems. But because they are too expensive, they can not be upgraded due to a lack of healthcare cybersecurity budgets. The reason why they are still in practice is because of their best services in supporting legacy applications for which there is no replacement. 

    Best Practices of Healthcare Cybersecurity 

    Following are the two practices when it comes to ensuring security in healthcare:


    • Risk Assessment 


    It is the best practice when it comes to stopping cybercrimes. Having an idea of risks may result in assessing them that can be a cornerstone in healthcare cybersecurity. 


    • Security Controls 


    Every organization must have efficient security controls in place. The benefit to having a lot of security controls is that they may help in blocking any damage that was destined for some other control. Security controls may include data loss protection, backup and restoration, mobile device management, anti-virus, secure disposal, web gateway, firewall, and much more. 

    Advanced security controls in healthcare cybersecurity include penetration testing, digital forensics, anti-theft devices, multi-factor authentication, network segmentation, and vulnerability scans. 

    Summing it up 

    The healthcare industry is prone to many frauds. Cybercriminals try to steal the personal credentials of patients in order to use them for their benefit. This can not only damage the reputation of hospitals but also harms the patients which can also sometimes become a life-threatening situation. Therefore, healthcare cybersecurity is an important measure to have in place to minimize these threats.