Keeping healthcare cyber resilient

The healthcare industry is one of the world's largest and fastest-growing industries with a projected value of $11.9 trillion by 2025. As a result, healthcare is facing increasing cyber attacks – making it a critical focus for enhanced security measures.

An essential evolving sector that requires continuous innovation, the healthcare ecosystem is made up of various stakeholders such as doctors, nurses, technicians, and administrators. They generate, store, and share a vast amount of data daily, such as medical records, treatment plans, test results, and billing information. Undoubtedly, the smooth flow of this data is crucial for efficient healthcare delivery, but it also brings to the fore significant security and privacy concerns.

Cyber security impact on healthcare

Ensuring there are strong measures to protect data security and privacy is key as the overall cyber security landscape has become more challenging. In 2023 alone, over 100 million people were affected by cyber attacks within the healthcare industry. Cybercriminals are targeting healthcare organizations due to the rewards that can be reaped from obtaining patient data for identity theft, financial fraud, or ransomware attacks.

Another issue stems from intricate healthcare systems composed of multiple stakeholders, such as healthcare providers, insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and third-party suppliers. Each entity requires access to sensitive patient data, which increases the likelihood of insider threats and accidental data breaches caused by human error or improper authorization. While electronic health records (EHRs), telemedicine, and other digital systems have simplified data access, sharing, and storage, they have also introduced new risks for cyber attacks and data breaches.

The frequency and sophistication of cyber security risks within the healthcare industry are growing, fueled by the industry’s continued innovation. With more digital touchpoints introduced, malicious actors gain more potential avenues to launch their attacks.

When medical devices are vulnerable to cyberattacks, patient safety is compromised. Clearly it has become more important than ever for healthcare organizations to adopt a holistic and proactive approach to cyber security to safeguard sensitive personal and medical data, ensure the continuous availability of healthcare without disruptions, and protect patients from malicious activities by cyber criminals.

Securing the healthcare ecosystem

Bumrungrad International Hospital has leveraged technology to secure access while maintaining strict patient health information standards. The hospital has been at the forefront of medicine in Thailand for over 40 years, serving over a million patients from 190 countries annually.

As a leading medical provider in a highly regulated sector, Bumrungrad needs to prioritize patient confidentiality across all its operations. The hospital partnered with Cloudflare as its security partner, putting in place services that are consistent with the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and HITECH requirements. When it comes to mitigating volumetric threats like bots and DDoS attacks, Cloudflare stops an average of 37,000 threats to the hospital site and web applications each month. A secure network perimeter is key, so that the hospital can continue focusing on delivering quality healthcare and maintaining patient trust.

Here are 5 cyber security best practices that healthcare organizations should consider implementing:

  1. Employee training and awareness: Educating employees on cyber security best practices, like identifying phishing emails and handling sensitive data securely, is crucial for risk mitigation and creating a cyber security-aware culture.

  2. Zero Trust framework: The Zero Trust approach verifies all users and devices regardless of location, implementing strict access controls to reduce unauthorized access and enhance security.

  3. Network and endpoint security: Implementing advanced measures like firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and secure network architecture strengthens the healthcare ecosystem against cyber threats. Endpoint protection solutions, such as antivirus software and encryption, safeguard against malware, data breaches, and unauthorized access.

  4. Regular security audits and penetration testing: Frequent audits and testing identify vulnerabilities, allowing proactive strengthening of security infrastructure and minimizing data breach risks.

  5. Data encryption and privacy measures: Encrypting data at rest and in transit protects patient information. Robust privacy measures, including access controls and audit logs, ensure compliance and maintain patient trust.

The evolving security landscape and increasing complexity of healthcare systems present significant challenges and risks. However, by adopting these solutions, healthcare organizations can enhance their cyber security posture and mitigate cyberattacks.

Collaboration among healthcare stakeholders will be key in establishing industry-wide standards and best practices to address cyber security risks, maintain patient safety and privacy, and ensure the always-on availability of medical services. By proactively addressing these challenges and implementing effective solutions, the healthcare industry can ensure the secure access, sharing, and storage of sensitive patient information, while continuing to deliver high-quality care and maintaining trust in the healthcare ecosystem.

Cloudflare for Healthcare provides employees and third parties secure access to internal systems, protects patient data, and accelerates performance.

This article is part of a series on the latest trends and topics impacting today’s technology decision-makers.

This article was originally produced for Tech News


Jonathon Dixon
Vice President and MD, APJC

Key takeaways

After reading this article you will be able to understand:

  • Why healthcare is one of the most targeted industries

  • 5 best practices to keep hospital staff, administration, and operations cyber resilient

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