Healthcare Cybersecurity Is in Critical Condition

We've got some bad news. Cybersecurity healthcare initiatives are falling short.

In 2016, the industry was the victim of 88 percent of all ransomware attacks. Even worse, up to 89 percent of healthcare organizations have experienced a breach of patient information in the previous two years. Healthcare is under attack and the defenses are not working.

The good news is that a sound cybersecurity healthcare strategy is possible. But business leaders need to focus on the most common weaknesses and vulnerabilities. If it's not possible to be protected against all threats, it is possible to mitigate the most common and consequential. As you strive to get your cybersecurity healthy again, focus on these key areas:

Define Leadership and Assign Roles
Cybersecurity suffers when people don't know who is in charge or how they should individually respond to threats. It must be clear who oversees, manages, and maintains cybersecurity protections. Ask yourself: Who steps in when an attack occurs? How should chains of command and lines of communication be established?

To tackle these questions, you'll need to develop an incident protection plan. That way the response to an attack is as coordinated and comprehensive as possible.

Practice Good Governance
Cybersecurity cannot be an afterthought in healthcare. In order to ensure that protections are expansive and not just adequate, healthcare organizations must implement plans, policies, and practices. Make sure your defensive protocols are designed to make cybersecurity a core part of the company culture. Good governance ensures that mistakes and oversights don't put a cybersecurity strategy at risk.

Account for Connected Devices
Today's cybersecurity in healthcare is suffering a major security gap. The cause? A slew of new Internet-connected medical devices, wearable technologies, and network-linked equipment. These Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are notoriously insecure.

Hackers know this is an easy vulnerability to exploit, and closing the gaps can be difficult for large organizations. It may not be possible to identify every vulnerability, but you can work with your IT team to assess various entry points.

Recruit and Retain Security Staff
Cybersecurity requires a hefty human input even when the most advanced tech tools are in place. Unfortunately, healthcare organizations often underestimate their security needs. For instance, some practices struggle to recruit adequate cybersecurity talent. And still, others struggle even more to retain techies as salaries rise. If you can't find staff for your in-house IT team, you should strongly consider hiring an agency to fill in the gaps.

Improve Education and Awareness
Cybersecurity issues are most often caused by internal users who are easily fooled by savvy hackers. Since it only takes one mistake to bring on an attack, all staff must receive training and education in recognizing and avoiding threats. This is the single most effective way to reduce your overall risk.

Defend the Right Data
Cybersecurity efforts should focus on sensitive and regulated patient data along with proprietary research and intellectual property. These are most likely to be targeted by hackers, and they must necessarily be protected like high-value targets. When cybersecurity is focused on the most expensive assets it discourages hackers and leads them to seek out other targets.

Healthcare organizations must make every effort to avoid a cyberattack. They must also acknowledge that no defense is ironclad. Perfect protection is impossible, which is why healthcare organizations carry cyber insurance to mitigate and minimize the consequences of an attack. Explore the various coverage options provided at CyberPolicy.

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