Cybersecurity In Digital Healthcare

Over the past half-century, health networks have had hundreds of millions of records stored within them. Patients’ personal information, medical history, and what kind of treatments and prescriptions they received. And in today's healthcare system nearly thousands more pieces of information are being added to these files every day. In part because everything done from a medical standpoint today is recorded, anything from your height and age to your last phone call with your physician. And with this growing number of digital healthcare data, the risk of cybercrime has never been higher.

Today we are seeing the highest number of cybercrime-related incidents in the healthcare sector than ever before. And the number of cybercrimes will only continue to grow over the next decade unless health networks improve upon their cybersecurity and secure the information the networks hold.

According to Dr. Daniele Giansanti, there are two reasons health networks are optimal targets for cybercrime. The first is that the defenses are relatively weak, to break these defenses all it takes is a misplaced USB stick or a simple login. The second reason is that the data the healthcare networks hold is very rich and valuable. These records not only include your entire medical history but also personal information such as addresses, health insurance, and even messages between you and your doctor. These records could be used to steal one's identity, blackmail, mistreat and countless other things.

In recent years there have been several malware attacks on both hospitals and independent physician offices. For example, in the spring of 2021, Ireland’s Department of Health was infected by a Conti ransomware attack. This attack caused a nationwide shutdown of Ireland’s IT systems. And prior to that, multiple hospitals in France fell prey to an RYUK attack which caused the transfer of patients to other facilities, resulting in confusion and chaos. And in some cases, digital health care networks can be hacked by using relatively simple tactics, such as phishing emails and or fake messages. Hackers will use these tactics in order to gain access to these networks and eventually take control of the system and the private data within.

Despite these obvious reasons that healthcare networks should be updated and professionally protected, no real effort has been made. While many private institutions have state-of-the-art cybersecurity software many hospitals and physician offices do not. Ill-funded IT departments will not be able to combat the rising number of hackers and cyber-terrorists in the coming years unless they are given more resources and funding.

And since the start of the pandemic, these digital technologies have proven irreplaceable to the healthcare industry as a whole because of the solutions it provides and their ability to improve the outcomes for patients. Every day more and more IoT devices are being added to the network and with more devices within the network that means more ways devices are open to attack. Companies and their patients become more vulnerable to targeted online attacks every time a new IoT device is put into circulation. This risk can be combated by an increase in cybersecurity around digital healthcare.

At the end of the day, cybersecurity is arguably the most important part of patient safety. If the system is hacked the patient could have all of their private records leak or have the prescription or treatment changed causing serious consequences.

According to a report done by Global Market insights, it is predicted the cybersecurity market will surpass 27 billion euros by 2027.

How much do you think will be allocated to digital healthcare?