During the rise of cybercrime in the pandemic, the healthcare industry was seen as an easy target. Though the healthcare sector is not financially strong itself, the information of patients stored in their systems is worth a lot to cybercriminals. This personal data is obtained and used by hackers to demand ransoms from the victims with a threat to leak the information if they do not oblige.
There are many threats befalling the healthcare industry today, the most important of which are:
Hackers attack systems using a form of malware known as ransomware that encrypts all the data on electronic devices and renders the user unable to access it. A message is then sent to the owner demanding a large sum of money in exchange for the decryption key.
The healthcare industry is targeted the most by ransomware due to its lack of emphasis on security and the importance of information in question. There have been 48 ransomware attacks in the US and 82 ransomware attacks globally in May 2021 alone, with an average ransom of $131,304 demanded.
Without adequate security protocols in place, the healthcare institutions are especially suspect to insiders, who have access to confidential information of the company, exploiting their credentials for financial gain, causing harm to the organization in the process. 22% of security issues are caused by insiders, as stated in Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations report, of which 64% of insiders carry out this activity for financial gain.
Bad Bots are programs designed to cause damage to individuals and organizations from within. These bots are effective as they are able to mimic their actions to correspond the same way a user interacting with a device would. This allows them to often go undetected.
Bad Bots were a huge pain for the healthcare industry as 8% of cyber-attacks on the industry in 2020 were made through Bad Bots. Bad Bots have the power to disrupt the supply chain of the COVID-19 vaccine by making it difficult for users to get an appointment. Due to this, all medical institutions involved in providing the COVID-19 vaccine are at risk of being targeted, with as many as 12,000 Bot requests per hour being observed.
DDoS attacks prevent owners from being able to access their own networks. They are difficult to detect as they can be conducted from anywhere in the world. The healthcare industry has been a prominent victim of these attacks, with cybercriminals using DDoS to delay services urgently required by patients. DDoS attacks amounted to more than 1,800 in January 2021, though this number decreased in the following two months.
Clicking on unsolicited email links by healthcare employees results in the entire sector suffering as it allows cybercriminals easy access into the network. Upon clicking the link, the virus allows hackers to track every online movement of the user, and through this, data can easily be obtained, which can be held for ransom or sold on the dark web. Email phishing has gained prominence in the healthcare sector since the beginning of the pandemic.
How to Limit These Attacks?
Though cybersecurity is often overlooked in the healthcare industry, there are a few ways to protect systems from being overrun:
1- Understand your precious asset: If nothing else, make sure the business’ most important data is secure.
2- Be Aware and Vigilant: Conduct training sessions to teach employees the proper way to browse the internet and to prevent negligence resulting in enormous losses for the sector.
3- Patch your systems: Update your systems constantly as older systems are more vulnerable and easily hackable.
4- Back up: Back up all data to prevent operations from being hacked in case of a cyberattack.