Cybersecurity Phishing Protection Technology
Mar 09

Top Cybersecurity Threats for Healthcare in 2022

For the last several years, cyberattacks have been a major issue for the healthcare industry. The potential impact of these events can be devastating, and unfortunately it appears their occurrence is only likely to increase as time continues onward. With that in mind, let’s explore the top cybersecurity threats expected in 2022.

Phishing

Phishing refers to a cyberattack in which an individual poses as a legitimate organization by email, phone, or text to obtain sensitive information from a target. Phishing communications usually feature at least one of the following:

  • An offer that seems too good to be true
  • A sense of urgency, causing the target to act without vetting the source
  • Hyperlinks that appear to be legitimate, but are not
  • Attachments that contain harmful files
  • An unusual or unexpected sender

In the healthcare industry, email is the top tactic used for phishing, and this has been on the rise. In 2012, only 4% of breaches in healthcare involved email. As of 2020, that number had increased to 42%. With an absence of large-scale security in place in healthcare, the occurrence of phishing is only expected to increase further. It’s also worth noting that phishing can often serve as the jumping off point for other types of cyberattacks.

Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware is malware that uses encryption to hold a target’s data for ransom, typically spread through spam emails and phishing. These attacks are usually designed to spread through a network to paralyze an entire organization. Ransomware attacks use asymmetric encryption, where a pair of keys – one public and one private – are used to encrypt and decrypt a file. The private key needed to decrypt the file is held until the ransom is paid, usually with a deadline of 24-48 hours for payment or the data is lost forever. These attacks are quite lucrative for the cybercriminals who perpetrate them, with billions of dollars of ransom payments generated.

Healthcare is a focused target for ransomware due to the need for healthcare organizations to minimize operational disruptions. This increases the odds of ransom payment for the cybercriminals. In fact, more than one in three healthcare organizations experienced a ransomware attack in 2020, a trend that is likely to continue.

Data Breaches

A data breach exposes protected, confidential, sensitive information to an unauthorized party. Data breaches most often happen due to weakness of technology or user behavior. There are a few different types of data breaches:

  • An accidental breach by an employee: An employee accidentally views information that they are not authorized to access. Nothing further happens, but this is technically a data breach.
  • Malicious breach by an employee: An employee purposefully accesses or shares data with the aim of bringing harm to an organization or individual.
  • Lost and stolen devices: A device containing unsecured data goes missing, creating the potential for that data to be viewed by unauthorized individuals.
  • Cybercriminals: Sensitive information is accessed by hackers during an attack or an organization.

More than 40 million patient records were compromised in data breaches in 2021. According to a Ponemon Industry and Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, the healthcare sector suffers more data breaches than any other industry. This is likely because health information tends to hold more value for cybercriminals as it opens the door to a wide variety of fraud opportunities for a larger payout.

DDoS Attacks

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) is an attack in which cybercriminals try to interrupt the normal traffic of a service, network, or server by overwhelming the target with a floor of traffic. To spot a DDoS attack, look for:

  • An unusual amount of traffic coming from a single IP address or IP range
  • An unusual amount of traffic from users with the same location, web browser, or device type
  • An uptick in requests for a single page with no explanation
  • Unnatural web traffic patterns

DDoS attacks often serve as cover as another malware attack is deployed. Alternatively, a DDoS attacks can be used after ransomware to apply additional pressure to issue payment. In healthcare, DDoS attacks will usually target an external website rather than an internal server, and in this way service to patients will be interrupted.

Attacks on IoT and Medical Devices

According to Cynerio, 53% of connected medical devices in hospital settings have serious vulnerabilities. That makes it somewhat easy to understand how there were 2.9 billion attacks on IoT and medical devices in the first half of 2019 alone. These devices inherently have less security than networks, servers, and the like, so they are more vulnerable to attack. This doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be employed in patient care, it simply means that this is something to be aware of and attempt to offset with appropriate cybersecurity measures.

It’s easy to understand why cybersecurity is such a concern for the healthcare industry. The potential impacts reach beyond an invasion of privacy and financial consequences; they can quite literally be fatal events. This is why MicroMD offers eBackup, powered by Asigra. This cloud-based data backup manages and monitors data across your entire network. With automatic backup and retention schedules, there’s no need to worry about whether you’ve remembered to secure your data. And should a disaster occur, your data is quickly restored to get you back up in running.

For more information or to get your practice set up, visit micromd.com or call 1-800-624-8832.

About the author,
Crystal Stanton

Crystal is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Henry Schein MicroMD. Content creation, social media management, and SEO optimization are just a few of her areas of concentration as she seeks to educate clients and prospects alike about the simple, customizable, and connected solutions we offer at MicroMD.

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