A War On Two Fronts: Health Cybersecurity During Covid

March 2020 was a big month for the global healthcare system. In the blink of an eye, almost everything had to change, and medical offices across the country were forced to reassess their operations. Unfortunately, it was also a big month for cyber criminals. As the healthcare industry pivoted, hackers made the most of this opportunity. Chronically underfunded medical IT departments saw a massive increase in cyber attacks.

As the pandemic goes on, attackers continue to wreak havoc on medical offices and medical support organizations across the world. Protecting patient data should be a top priority for medical professionals.

Meager Defenses

Healthcare data breaches cost crippling amounts of money and impact millions of patients every year. Despite this, healthcare companies may spend as little as four percent of their IT budget on cybersecurity.

With reliance on telehealth and remote work, the attack surface has expanded significantly for most healthcare providers. Technology departments in local hospitals are struggling to keep pace with these changes and are reacting to network attacks when they occur rather than anticipating them. Many medical offices are using outdated or unpatched software, leaving themselves at greater risk of a cyber attack. Electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) is transmitted from hundreds of devices to an organization’s network, and many of these machines may be out of date or unencrypted.

Danger of a Breach

Hospital systems and multi-provider medical networks struggle to keep up with cybersecurity during the best of times. Ransomware, denial of service, and other attacks plague the industry regardless of other factors. In situations where budgeting and staff is tested, the increased workload on IT and cybersecurity teams can be crushing.

While every data breach is bad, such incidents are often utterly debilitating for smaller groups. For small healthcare offices such as dental teams, specialists, or private practices, cybersecurity staff and software can often be out of reach or impractical. With the pressure of COVID on all medical offices, the additional stress of a breach of patient information could be the last straw and may force the office to close. This harms not only the people whose data is stolen, but also the people who lose their jobs and other patients who must find a new provider.

Protecting Against Attacks

In a time where all medical providers are busy focusing on providing care for their patients and combating COVID-19, they should not also have to worry about cyber attackers. Luckily, there are common sense security measures and cost-effective software that can make a huge difference in protecting patient data. Solutions include:

  • updating Mobile Device Management policies
  • training employees to protect data in their possession and recognize phishing attempts and other social engineering
  • securing the office’s Wi-Fi network
  • encrypting all machines and devices that contain sensitive information
  • keeping all software up to date

In addition to these measures, an endpoint protection software like DriveStrike can help healthcare providers secure data and devices remotely. DriveStrike offers location services to track devices, remote locking capabilities, and the ability to sanitize devices in the face a potential breach.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has been a strain on the global healthcare industry, battles can be fought and won on many fronts as the treatment options and cybersecurity solutions become more prevalent and effective. By implementing simple security measures and software changes into health offices, medical personnel can get back to what their main concern should be: treating patients.

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Each day brings new data security challenges, so your organization needs simple and wide-reaching solutions to combat those challenges. DriveStrike is here to help you protect your most critical data with premium quality endpoint security. Start a free trial with DriveStrike today, and contact us if you need any assistance. Our team is always ready to answer your questions.