Healthcare hacking – that is, cybercrimes that specifically target the healthcare sector – is quickly becoming one of the most lucrative forms of cyber theft. Hackers know that healthcare organizations have a wealth of valuable personal data, and these companies increasingly find themselves the targets of data breaches.

You might assume that cybercriminals are looking for financial records, but credit card theft is only a small part of the crime inflicted on the healthcare industry. More often than not, the target is medical records, which are far more profitable. Even partial patient records can allow thieves to file fraudulent insurance claims, which will make thieves far more money than a stolen credit card number.

The rise in telehealth and remote work during and after the COVID-19 pandemic has also created a rise in new vulnerabilities that hackers have been quick to exploit. In early 2021 Universal Health Services reported a loss of almost $70 million due to a ransomware attack, and any healthcare system that is not taking the time to protect its data is setting itself up for similar issues.

How can you prevent healthcare hacks? By familiarizing yourself with the ways hackers access patient information and creating a framework to reduce breaches at your company.

What Are the Most Common Healthcare Hacks?

Criminals can access healthcare data in several ways, expanding well beyond what is covered by “traditional” cybersecurity. It’s also dangerous to assume that hackers are your only threat; breaches are more often caused by individuals within your own organization, and you must prepare for that possibility as well.

  • Phishing, hacks, and malware/ransomware. These are probably the first threats that come to mind when you think about cybersecurity. Hackers are always working to find new ways around your defenses, so it’s important to stay aware of new tactics before your security becomes obsolete.
  • Negligence. Employee errors can be one of the biggest causes of security breaches for healthcare organizations. This can include loss of computing devices by staff members or unauthorized access into private areas.
  • Third-party vendors: Your systems might be secure, but those of your vendors and contractors might not. Organizations that work with healthcare providers don’t always have the stringent protections that their clients have, making them valuable targets for healthcare data breaches.
  • Malicious employee actions: Sometimes malicious actions will be an employee accessing patient data the employee shouldn’t, or creating a vulnerability point. At worst, it can involve employees actively searching for (and then profiting from) customer health information.

How Can I Prevent Healthcare Hacking?

The key to preventing hacks in any industry is vigilance. With so much at stake for healthcare companies, you will need to be thorough and diligent in your cybercrime prevention tactics. Keep the following in mind while creating your cybersecurity program:

  • Assess. Start by taking a frank and thorough look at your organization and the risks inherent to your industry. Look at your budget, your staff, your current policies, and the most recent guidelines of any applicable compliance frameworks.
  • Review. Compliance requirements can change over time and new cyber threats are always around the corner. Every year, revisit the arrangements and contracts throughout your supply chain and make sure that their responsibilities to your privacy program are up to date and fully understood by all parties.
  • Assign. It would be impossible for one staff member to track all risks effectively. Assigning risk management tasks throughout your organization makes it less likely that threats will slip through the cracks.
  • Educate. Security awareness training is a vital part of your cybersecurity program, and one that you cannot afford to overlook. Regular training will embed compliance and cybersecurity into your company culture.
  • Monitor. After the risk assessment, and the third-party reviews, and the assignment of risk mitigation to specific people, and the training – you still need to monitor activity constantly to detect unusual network events quickly. Implement appropriate security monitoring technologies so continuous monitoring can happen.
  • Establish. All of these combined elements will come together to create a unified security framework. By establishing this framework you can assure that your controls and processes are cohesive and provide not only quality patient care, but also the highest possible level of security for your clients.

Reduce Your Risk of Healthcare Hacking with ZenGRC

Protecting your clients’ data security should always be a priority for any medical organization. With so many clients and so many threats, it can be difficult to identify risks until after the damage has been done. By creating a clear and consistent framework for your security measures you can stay one step ahead of the hackers and keep your customers’ health records safe.

ZenGRC provides a single, integrated experience that allows you to track your compliance efforts and potential risk with ease. This innovative platform creates a clear view of risk throughout your organization and is compatible with a number of frameworks, including HIPAA.

Schedule a demo today and learn how ZenGRC can help you defend your clients against cyberattacks.