Could security be the prescription the healthcare industry needs?

Could security be the prescription the healthcare industry needs?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a major eye-opener for the healthcare industry. It showed how overburdened the healthcare system was and how it reduced patient access to healthcare while also affecting medical-related supply chain activities due to travel restrictions and shut down of manufacturing facilities.

The shockwaves it caused were experienced throughout the industry in both good and bad ways. It not only was a stark reminder of how much the healthcare system in India truly lacked, but it also paved the way for mass-adoption of technology to help humanity survive this ordeal.

From governments and corporates adopting tech-enabled innovative solutions to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus to the rise of telemedicine and ease of  consultation to patients who were quarantined, technology truly enabled survival during the pandemic. But it did more than that, it made humans more comfortable with technology.

Today, many hospitals offer the ability to see their doctors digitally instead of in-person appointments, not only making digital consultations normal but also offering a great proposition for both the patients as well as the hospitals.

E-pharmacies make it simpler for patients to acquire medicines without leaving the confines of their homes. Hospitals today have become more pro-active and have digital infrastructure (in the form of servers, storage systems etc.) in place to store and maintain patient records for ease of access in future.

Technology is opening all these barriers, making lives convenient, but along the way, it is also making the sector more prone to vulnerabilities and threats it was never susceptible to.

Key target for cyberattacks
The healthcare industry has been a primary target for this increasing threats. Indian healthcare organizations witnessed over 2,78,000 cyber-attacks every month 2022 according to Indusface.

These cyber attackers don’t just limit themselves to hospitals or medical institutions but also pharmaceutical companies, trying to steal confidential research on vaccines, medicines, or even medicinal IPs and patents, either to demand ransom in exchange or at the request of competing brands.

How do such attacks happen?
With healthcare getting digitised and information being stored on the cloud or servers, it’s no longer just the physical security that matters – the need for digital security rises too. Gaining access to files stored online or on a server isn’t particularly challenging.

With cyberattacks like ransomware, phishing etc. all the bad actors need is an authorised personnel who is negligent about cybersecurity. That individual can become the point-of-breach, offering bad actors access to the institution’s servers.

This can be anyone — someone from the admin staff or even doctors who use the institution’s digital infrastructure for offering telemedicine or teleconsultations.

In fact, as per Trellix’s XDR research, cybersecurity professionals have reported employee error to be the greatest cyberthreats to their healthcare organisation (46%) followed by insider threats/espionage (38%) and Phishing attacks (32%).

Moreover, today, several hospitals also adopt Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), where internet-connected devices with sensors offer real-time valuable information. These devices lack strong security measures, which can easily be hacked by cyberattackers, and eventually gaining access to the server.

But why attack the healthcare sector?
Technology has helped the healthcare industry overcome numerous challenges they were facing like maintaining detailed patient health records, storing and maintaining large volumes of data, health monitoring, and preventive care among other things.

If all this sensitive data gets in the hands of the hackers, it could make the patients victims of identity theft. Their banking info could result in fraudulent transactions and insurmountable financial losses. Moreover, the kind of medical treatment, tests and reports could be a potential gold mine for businesses in the healthcare sector who are looking to look at new ways to make more money.

The impact of a cyberattack
The overall impact of such an event would be far dire. The cyberattack would compromise patient privacy, subject the institution to legal and regulatory consequences, disrupt day-to-day operations, all this with irreparable damage to reputation and trust in the institution.

As per our XDR research, globally in the healthcare industry, 40% of organizations witnessed up to 10% revenue loss due to security breaches and feel like they lack skilled workers to manage tools and processes.

All of this underscores the importance of robust cybersecurity measures and safeguarding patient data in the healthcare industry.

How can this be fixed?
Medical institutions and other healthcare verticals have now commenced work on strengthening and improving their cybersecurity infrastructure. However, it’s a far complicated endeavour, primarily since there are several elements at play that exist to maintain the security — solutions like firewall, multi-factor authentication, encryption, regular security updates and many more.

With so many elements functioning in tandem, keeping a track of all of them in real time is easier said than done. However, there are solutions such as eXtended Detection and Response (XDR), which help you do just that. It consolidates multiple security products across endpoints, network, and cloud into a cohesive, unified security incident detection and response platform, to conveniently address the threat as soon as possible.

XDR, therefore, aims at improving security operations productivity by enhancing detection and response capabilities.

In the end, such robust and all-encompassing solutions will help detect and prevent major cyberattacks and allow organizations to deal with the problems effectively as “prevention is better than cure.”
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