Since the onset of COVID-19, it’s been challenge after challenge for hospitals nationwide. While tending to the unique and weighty demands of the pandemic, healthcare is simultaneously under siege from malicious actors seeking to take advantage of overworked staff and stretched IT security protocols. As our readers know, healthcare is one of the most at-risk industries for security breaches, and modest budgets, now hit by huge revenue losses this year, make bolstering cybersecurity protections virtually impossible.

Healthcare security is in crisis from multiple perspectives: hospital systems, equipment, and patient data remain vulnerable to ransomware attacks; the demand on workers and healthcare facilities is only increasing; and telemedicine remains mostly unaccountable to HIPAA standards.

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and we’re not just here to ensure you stay informed about IT security’s most serious issues—we’re also here to present solutions. This week, we’re looking into all the hurdles facing the healthcare industry and what must be done to overcome them.

The Top Three

Problem: Ransomware doesn’t just take down hospital networks. It also targets essential operating equipment, like ventilators and MRI machines.

Solution: Experts advise that although the cheapest and fastest way to take back your system access in the event of a ransomware attack is to simply fold to the attackers’ demands, the data returned runs the risk of being corrupted, and hackers don’t always return control after the ransom has been paid. So your first line of defense is updating your existing security protocols, because patched and updated networks are exponentially harder to infiltrate.

Also focus on hardware – medical devices, such as ventilators and MRI machines, are subject to the ever-expanding Internet of Things, so investing in endpoint protection is a valuable endeavor. Sealing endpoint vulnerabilities will ensure that in the event of a ransomware attack, critical medical devices remain operational, even if computer systems are compromised.

Problem: Telemedicine often fails to comply with HIPAA regulations and jeopardizes patient data.

Solution: The rise of telemedicine has resulted in data transfers, prescriptions, and other essential patient information transferred through unsecured portals, creating a rich vein of data for hackers to tap into—but there are multiple means of protection for telemedicine providers to look into.

For one, basic encryption is a common and highly accessible option for entities like hospitals that conduct frequent sensitive data transfers. Although hospitals may not have time to conduct assessments and systemwide updates themselves, hiring a third party allocates time and resources to bolstering IT security without putting additional pressure on staff. And as typical as it is for hospitals to send information through secure portals after in-person appointments, the same standard should be imposed on telemedicine appointments as they become increasingly normalized.

Problem: There’s just not enough money for healthcare cybersecurity, even in a normal year. Now, as providers max out their bandwidth in the pandemic, the cost of PPE and staff overtime, coupled with huge revenue losses from reduced voluntary procedures during COVID19, have left most healthcare establishments in financial straits like never before.

Solution: With strained budgets coinciding with the rise in cybercrime targeting healthcare, lawmakers need to swiftly consider how to fund the sector’s everyday IT security, as well as provide targeted support for growing remote and online services. Robust IT security standards should extend to all environments, and in an ideal world, governments will provide resources and enforcement in equal measure.

Providing Solutions

Healthcare cybersecurity is more essential than ever, but with diligence and dedication, healthcare entities can address the issues at hand and move forward with universal improvements in their IT security.

In the meantime, BAI Security has a comprehensive, cost-effective solution for healthcare providers. Our budget-friendly HIPAA Risk Assessment affirms your compliance and the safety of your patients’ PHI, all while evaluating your organization’s network, data, and infrastructure security.

Uncertain times like these can make it hard to consider the right choice for your organization’s IT security, but one thing’s for sure: you’ll be wanting results that matter.

Don’t wait—contact us today.