Security of health systems threatened by ransomware2 min read

26/Feb/2021

Healthcare services may be slowly increasing their digitalisation – a positive sign that will surely be a boon to patients and healthcare providers alike. Especially after the Covid-19 pandemic, it is clear that certain elements of health systems are long overdue digital transformation, from telehealth to record keeping.

However, as the health sector looks to improve efficiency and efficacy through digital means, it is imperative that cybersecurity is a priority in any transformation plan. With the amount of sensitive data inherent in healthcare, health systems are natural targets for cybercriminals looking to hold valuable information or even services hostage.

The health sector has a variety of subsections that all hold valuable personal information, including but not limited to hospitals, GP surgeries, the Department of Health and other healthcare-oriented organisations. Within each of these are hundreds, if not thousands, of employees who may not be aware or thoroughly heightened to potential phishing attacks. Or, alternatively, digitalisation within the healthcare sector is happening at a slower rate compared to the tech or finance sectors, according to a recent study by the Harvard Business Review. Therefore, a cyber attacker may find a point of entry through an older system, or one that hasn’t been recently patched.

All of these factors make the health sector incredibly vulnerable to damaging cyberattacks, especially ransomware. Cyber attacks highlighted in the news only in the past year makes it clear how widespread these attacks and the subsequent extortion have become. It is imperative that healthcare organisations take steps to prevent cyberattacks and have a plan in place if they do suffer an attack.

The best time to install thorough cybersecurity measures is day one – the next best time is now. As organisations look to upgrade digitally, they must do so with cybersecurity in mind, taking care to check the cybersecurity status of both their new and existing systems.

No sector is immune to cyberthreats – not even healthcare. Looking forward, health organisations need to make sure their cyber health is as strong as their patients’ health.

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