How Data Breaches Are Changing Healthcare Cybersecurity

While cyber-attacks have been prevalent for quite some time, it’s concerning to note that these technological attacks on infrastructure, business, and particularly data are growing.

However, it’s not just the smaller unsuspecting companies being attacked. We’ve recently seen the likes of Microsoft fending off cybercriminals looking to gain access to valuable data they hold. Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz reveals how data-driven our lives have become, not just in healthcare but also in every aspect of our everyday existence. When that data is breached, it can significantly impact millions of people, as having access to people’s vital information means cyber attackers can take control of so many connected services.

When it comes to healthcare, any potential breach that allows access to those connected services can mean networks are taken offline. This potentially gives companies something that can cost millions to rectify and maybe even result in disruptions of care, which could have tragic circumstances. However, it’s not just disruption that’s the aim of the hackers, as revealed in Healthcare Cybersecurity by W Andrew H Gantt III, the personal data also held within the healthcare system is just as valuable. This is due to the information often held by these organizations being such that it would be sufficient to enable those criminals to steal identities or commit healthcare fraud.

So, as you can see, healthcare providers must take the appropriate steps to protect data from such cyber-attacks.

It‘s the company’s responsibility to look after the data

While data breaches can be intentional and accidental, it’s the responsibility of the healthcare company to protect and maintain the confidentiality of the information that they hold. The most forward-thinking organizations will undertake regular risk assessments and test security controls to mitigate ongoing threats. These tests aim squarely to find weaknesses in networks or systems before any attack, therefore allowing the necessary steps to be implemented.

Insider information

It’s not just those from outside the organizations who carry out attacks. A number of people from within may consider looking to exploit their access to systems. But who would do that? For example, an angry employee could steal Private Healthcare Information (PHI) from their employer’s network and either sell it to a third party, post it online, or both. This ongoing threat has led companies to seriously look at who is given access to such sensitive information. As a result, permissions are now regularly reviewed on all staff accounts, no matter what level they are within the organization.


Ransomware and Malware attacks are other techniques being utilized to gain access to PHI and disrupt operations in healthcare. These mainly result from best security practices not being heeded, but that’s not just in terms of the system being directly targeted; malicious software can be injected into systems to allow third-party devices access. Some of the most effective ways to reduce the chances of a breach are to ensure totally secure remote network access, secure email access, and even web and DNS filtering.

Ransomware attacks also often look to exploit companies who don’t have the option to reinstall backup data; therefore, making regular backups to the most important data is crucial. The most safety-conscious of companies now store at least one offline backup away from the live network and systems to avoid that from falling into the hands of a hacker. Although now advances in private cloud services are also being used as a viable place to safeguard backups.

How can Avatara help? Healthcare organizations will always need to be vigilant, but thankfully, with our CompleteCloud Platform, you can concentrate on running your business while we look after the rest.

Guest post contributed by Alysse Logan 

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