How to Protect Patients & Healthcare Data from Hospital Ransomware

By January 7, 2019 March 15th, 2023 Healthcare, HIPAA, Uncategorized

Healthcare is one of the most targeted industries by ransomware attacks. In 2018, according to an industry report, 71% of healthcare ransomware attacks were against small and medium-sized businesses. The ransom demand by the criminal was as high as $2.8 million.

Healthcare data is valuable for criminals. A data breach in the healthcare industry is more than just an inconvenience for the business. It can lead to massive fines and increased regulations, as well as a breach in the trust between the patient and the healthcare provider. Worst of all, it can put patient outcomes at risk.

Ransomware Attack Vectors in Healthcare

It’s the nature of the healthcare industry – providers are the keepers and protectors of highly confidential and extremely valuable data. Patient health information (PHI), personal information, payment records, and more are all entrusted to healthcare providers.

At the same time, the healthcare industry is struggling to incorporate new technologies. Linked devices and the internet of things (IoT), the move to the cloud and linked patient health records have put pressure on providers to adapt in ways that aren’t always comfortable to the industry. Most hospital staff aren’t trained in IT security.

Third-party vendors and connected healthcare facilities also increase the risk of a ransomware attack or data breach. Even if one healthcare provider utilizes solid security protocols and protection against ransomware, the third-party organizations they work with can leave them exposed.

The valuable data protected by healthcare providers and the security risks inherent in the industry have made healthcare a prime target for criminals. In fact, since 2009, more than 176 thousand healthcare records have been exposed by data breaches.

The HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability) Act sets standards to protect patient medical information. Organizations and healthcare providers that can’t meet the standards set by HIPAA can be subject to fines, criminal liability, and even jail time. Protecting patient data against ransomware attacks is a requirement for everyone working with patient data.

Ways You Can Increase Hospital Ransomware Protection

Healthcare providers need to be proactive in protecting patient information from data breaches. As the scale of ransomware attacks increase, you need to increase the ransomware protection you have in place.

Network Assessment

Many organizations expose their data to risk because they don’t understand the scale of their data assets. They have no idea of the endpoint assets, which hackers can use in an attack, attached to their IP-based network. This could be an undocumented, legacy system still sitting on the network, or a wireless device still attached but not in active use. Even printers or a camera can compromise your network. Entry points like this put data at risk.

A network assessment by a responsible third-party IT security expert will identify these entry points. From there, a plan to cover these gaps in security can be developed and implemented. Something about visibility is critical. Know what is on your network and identify points of entry. You need to have continual visibility across your network and real-time monitoring of all assets on the network.

Security Installation and Updates

One of the most common reasons why a network is compromised is also one of the most preventable – the security of a device wasn’t updated. You need to create and implement a plan for downloading and updating the security for every device. The most recent security updates provide a solid defense against ransomware attacks.

You shouldn’t leave security updates up to chance. Assign a responsible vendor or leader to manage security updates. Look at installing updates as soon as possible to minimize your exposure.

Active Protection to Prevent Hospital Ransomware  

Spyware and virus protection provide active protection against ransomware attacks. With a monitoring service in place, your team can immediately diagnose problems, and begin solving the problem at the first sign of attack.

For every healthcare provider, ensuring the best possible patient outcome is critical. A data backup system is often the best way to prevent and manage a ransomware attack. With regular backups, you’ll have critical patient information in the hands of the doctors who need them moments after an attack.  

Protect Your Patients and Yourself Against Data Breaches  

It’s important for healthcare providers to implement new, cutting-edge technology to improve patient outcomes. It’s also vitally necessary to continue innovating and securing networks against ransomware attacks and hospital ransomware. Technology can improve care, but it can also increase risk.

Remember, IT security doesn’t have to be managed alone. Talk to the experts in cybersecurity and ransomware protection to learn how you can reduce risk and prevent data breaches.

Protect your patients and healthcare data. Contact the IT security experts at CDS Office Technologies to see what they can do for you.