Cyber Security: A Wake-up Call for the Health Sector

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Over the last year, the health sector has been thrust to the forefront of cyber security as a result of the pandemic - so is central to how many healthcare organizations operate. The storage and constant transmission of sensitive data inevitably pose ample opportunity for malicious attackers to take advantage of, and they have done exactly that. In fact, healthcare is one of the most targeted industries by cyber attacks today. With increasing reliance on technology, it is more important than ever to understand what’s at stake, and how to avoid and combat threats.

Data protection within the health sector - a growing concern

Stricter and frequently changing security standards coupled with an ever-expanding attack surface can admittedly make adhering to regulatory requirements seem arduous - but it is vital. Patient and other medical information have proven highly valuable for attackers, and that’s not likely to change. Therefore, ensuring compliance with data protection acts such as GDPR is critical. 

An example of a security standard relevant to this specific industry is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (1996), otherwise known as HIPPA. This US federal law sets a standard concerning the confidentiality of personal health information. A popular solution to achieving compliance with this data protection policy (and others) is adopting methods of continuous security monitoring. The logical defense technique can transform an organization’s security stature, empowering CISOs and other security professionals to make more informed decisions about their security strategy.

It’s no secret that data breaches can be detrimental, posing long-term reputational and financial damage. Health insurance provider Anthem Inc. was fined a substantial 16 million dollars after a significant data breach that disclosed the information of just under 79 million people in 2015. In addition, after a prolonged cyber attack ensued the breach of up to 11 million patients' personal information, health insurer Premera Blue Cross was charged with the second-largest HIPPA settlement on record. The financial consequence of the breach was an eye-watering $74 million penalty. Therefore, it’s time to start thinking about implementing more dependable cyber security apparatus with the future in mind.

Demonstrating that you have both the ability and ambition to prioritize data protection also provides a competitive advantage, proving your integrity which helps build trust with patients too. 

Healthcare - one of the most vulnerable industries to cyber attacks 

With the evolution of technology becoming an increasingly fundamental element to the way many healthcare organizations function, the need for active security controls intensifies. 

Due to the dynamic nature of the attack surface, unauthorized access is becoming easier to accomplish while preventing it is becoming more of a challenge, resulting in an onslaught of attack over the last year. Consequently, cyber security is becoming a major risk factor for healthcare organizations, requiring serious consideration and appropriate investment.

Below are some examples of the key cyber threats faced within the sector.

  • Lack of resources to adopt and sustain robust cyber security 
  • Outdated security software and measures
  • Inadequate security training for staff
  • Human error
  • Unprotected medical devices
  • Vast amounts of devices used
  • Third-party vendors
  • Phishing attacks
  • Malware attacks
  • Ransomware attacks

To preserve the organization’s longevity and avoid cyber attacks, CISOs, security and IT leaders must be equipped with the right tools to protect confidential and sensitive medical information and other assets within their digital ecosystem. Adopting a proactive approach to cyber security is crucial for maintaining not only integrity but resilience.

A solution: how healthcare providers can optimize their cyber security for the future

Achieving effective, efficient, and affordable cyber security is a universal concern for organizations across the board. Ultimately, you can’t remediate problems you aren’t aware of, so adopting a continuous security monitoring solution like attack surface management can help you visualize your true attack surface and map your vulnerabilities. Insights like this are invaluable, so cyber security should be prioritized in the boardroom. In light of ever-changing threats and modern security trends, reinforcing a security-first culture is crucial for success. 


Informer's innovative attack surface management platform (ASM) offers a modern, proactive, and scalable security solution. Continuous visibility and analysis of your evolving threat landscape are crucial for negating risk - in fact, this is said to be one of the most desired capabilities by CISOs. So, leverage your cyber security practices as an investment and book a demo today to secure tomorrow.

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