Shore Up Your Cybersecurity
Healthcare Providers are a Prime Target for Hackers

Modern Healthcare

Brian Doerr

The healthcare industry is a top target for cyberattacks in general — and ransomware in particular. That’s because patient data is more valuable than basic identity information. To give an example of its worth, medical histories can be sold and the data used for alternative, unethical purposes. But most cybercriminals use ransomware to disrupt operations — and patient care — in order to coerce healthcare providers to pay a ransom to regain access to files.

How prevalent are cybersecurity breaches in the healthcare industry?

BD: In February, there were almost as many reported cybersecurity breaches in healthcare as there were days. Providers, health plans and their associates reported 26 breaches affecting more than 1.5 million patients to the federal government, according to data reported by the Health and Human Services department’s Office for Civil Rights. The largest single breach in 2019 exposed 11.5 million patients’ data.

Across all industries, system glitches and human error account for 25 percent and 24 percent of breaches, respectively, but the majority—51 percent—are caused by malicious software attacks (malware), according to the IBM-sponsored 2019 Cost of Data Breach Report. A recent Verizon report found that...

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