In 2021, we saw some of the biggest cyber breaches in the healthcare industry. It has been a difficult year for healthcare. There have been incidents when networks had been taken down for several weeks at a time leading to healthcare disruptions. What made matters worse was the legal action that the healthcare facilities had to encounter after the restoration of their network. 2021 witnessed some of the largest healthcare data breaches impacting millions of patients.
Recent Data Breaches 2021
Here is a lowdown of recent data breaches that made patient data security vulnerable.
1. Accellion FTA Hack
The hack had a significant effect on healthcare. Clop ransomware group had been the entity behind the attack. The nefarious group is already known to target the healthcare industry. With this hacking incident, more than 100 companies had been thrown under the bus. However, the healthcare industry saw more victims than the others. The hackers leaked confidential data they had stolen from their victims.
2. Revere Health Breach
In June, Revere, the Utah-based physician group, had been a victim of a breach. It happened through the email account of their employee. The breach exposed almost 12,000 medical records that included medical record numbers, insurance providers, procedures, and a lot more. However, the good thing was, they had not been shared online.
3. Forefront Dermatology Data Hack
Yet again in June, a Cuba hacking group had posted data that they obtained from Forefront Dermatology. Following this, the dermatology organization claimed that their IT network had been hacked, and it gave hackers access to certain files, including the ones that contained healthcare information about patients. The compromised data contained date of birth, contact details, medical record numbers, medical data, etc. Even though these details had been posted on the dark web, the company reports state that data had just been accessed.
4. Metro Infectious Disease Consultant’s Data Breach
At Metro Infectious Disease Consultant, an employee email account breach led to the disclosure of data of more than 171,740 patients. The incident took place in June and the breach revealed medical data, social security numbers, and a lot more.
Why Do These Breaches Happen in the
Healthcare is still lagging behind in cybersecurity in comparison to the other industries. In this industry, most of the data breaches are due to internal factors instead of external ones. For instance, human errors lead to more security breaches than malware and hacking.
Let’s take a look at a few reasons data breaches happen.
- Human Error
Human error is responsible for 33.5% of data breaches. But mistakes are not surprising. One of the most common types of human error is misdelivery, where medical information ends up being delivered to the wrong person. Another common error is discarding documents or files without shredding them.
The physical reason primarily implies a threat. But it also refers to surveillance, snooping, and tampering. Thieves primary target laptops, and documents. They account for a minimum of 75% of thefts associated with security incidents.
Abuse of internal resources is also responsible for 29.5% of the data breaches. For instance, a lab professional might have access to the data to enter data but he/she might snoop on patients. This also leads to a data breach.
Hackers use different techniques to gain unauthorized access to a device or network. It accounts for 14.8% of cybersecurity incidents and is now pretty common these days.
Recently, malicious software has become one of the top reasons behind data breaches. 10.8% of the cybersecurity incidents are due to malware, and 70.5% of these incidents are attributed to ransomware. The top assets that are impacted by ransomware are servers, databases, and desktops.
How to Overcome This?
The healthcare industry is the prime target for cybersecurity criminals as it gives them access to a large number of sensitive patient details. To overcome this, there are a few measures that the healthcare industry can adopt. Let’s take a quick look at them.
1. Perform a Security Risk Analysis
Healthcare organizations should perform a security risk analysis every year. This is also important to abide by HIPAA rules. So, regular security audits should be an organization’s top priority.
2. Keep an Incident Response Plan Ready
Make sure you have a response place that will help in avoiding escalation if an incident or breach occurs. The plan will offer a clear guideline on what to do. It will also tell you about the follow-up measures.
3. Opt for Trusted Partners
In case you are outsourcing your services, such as IT services, medical billing, etc. your data is as secure as the stratagem the third-party provider uses. So, it is crucial that you choose a trusted partner to work with.
4. Educate Your Staff
You have to train and educate your employees about security. According to Kaspersky, 64% of the US healthcare professionals are not aware of the cybersecurity measures, while 48% had not even read cybersecurity policies that are used for the company. Almost half of the participants never had cybersecurity training. Hence, it is crucial to ensure that your employees understand the outcome of data breaches in the healthcare industry.
5. Avoid Using Outdated IT Infrastructure
Older and outdated equipment gives hackers more chances to access it. Thus, it is necessary to replace all outdated devices for reducing the risk of data breaches.
6. Regularly Update the Software You are Using
Hackers keep looking for ways to get access to your data. With regular software updates, you can eliminate bugs in the system and reduce the cybersecurity risks in the organization.
Present Things Happening for Patient
Data Security in Healthcare
Healthcare is using a customized management system that is more resistant to cybersecurity risks. Many organizations are using cloud storage to enjoy the best security practices. It is a safer choice for all healthcare organizations. Another tool that can improve security is encryption and blockchain technology. Modern-day software can back up your data instantly. Thus, it ensures that you don’t lose your data. But this is just the start and not what the healthcare industry should do.
What Does the Future Outlook Look Like?
In the future, data is going to be widely collected, shared, and analyzed. Healthcare organizations will use this data to drive operational efficiencies and improve consumer engagement. However with this improved transformation, the healthcare groups also need to keep a close eye on data security for modernizing the existing standards of data protection. Healthcare might have to face additional pressure for establishing detection, awareness, and response capabilities for cyber threats in the healthcare industry. Emerging blockchain might provide a solution to the biggest security challenges in healthcare. Features, like cryptography, decentralized storage, and smart contracts offer a framework to organizations for enhancing data protection while preventing unauthorized access to patient information and maintaining accuracy. To handle all these better, take help from a data security healthcare company like ResolveData in order to harmonize data for improved business outcomes.
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