Healthcare systems worldwide are still reeling under the pressure that had been mounted on them since the Covid-19 pandemic took full swing. With the backlash from such a widespread and deadly pandemic still looming on the horizon, the healthcare industry needs plenty of support. If we add nurse shortages and doctor burnout to the list of problems plaguing the healthcare sector, then we have a serious problem on our hands.
In such a precarious situation, cybersecurity threats are rampant. Hackers are entering more and more healthcare sector companies and kicking them while they are down. In October 2022, Chicago-based healthcare chain CommonSpirit reported a cybersecurity breach followed by hours of extreme panic as the situation was resolved. With 100+ hospital facilities in over 20 states across the US, patient data leaks and monetary damage were terrible.
How do cybersecurity risks pan out in the healthcare sector?
What do hackers want from the healthcare industry? The following are some of the cybersecurity threats that the healthcare sector has been facing over time:
- Hackers enter the healthcare system to access the sensitive information stored. These include confidential patient information as well as Social Security numbers.
- Transfer of assets and money laundering are rampant since the healthcare sector is involved in thousands of transactions per day.
- Hackers who work with ransomware send infected mails to hospitals. These could shut down critical care systems and other equipment required by patients. Asking for ransom to turn them back on is their ultimate goal.
Why are cybersecurity risks in the healthcare industry so scary?
Unlike other sectors, the healthcare industry deals with patient care. This includes critical care patients as well as those who travel long distances in order to survive. The healthcare industry and its functionality is the difference between the life and death of a sick person. Cybersecurity attacks on the healthcare system cause losses of billions of dollars in the form of lost payouts and revenue. But that is not the major reason behind these attacks being so scary.
The healthcare sector is designed to serve as the care provider. Patients who need immediate attention as brought into hospitals as emergency cases. In such as scenario, if there is a random ransomware or malware attack on the hospital, the danger is to the life of the sick person. Such cybersecurity attacks carry the risk of an operational shutdown. This can lead to the death of critical care patients. There have been recent cases where ransomware attacks have led to the deaths of patients. This can be due to operational shutdown and consequent transfer or treatment delay.
With the healthcare system already compromised, cybersecurity risks put patients from underprivileged backgrounds in serious peril. There is a shortage of physicians and healthcare professionals. The poor are being forced to wait for months to get an appointment. Therefore, cybersecurity analysts and proactive AI-based cybersecurity must be considered when it comes to the future of such an essential sector.