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Hacking Healthcare: Cyber Attacks, Cybersecurity and Why the Healthcare Industry Should Care

When you think about a hacker, you probably picture a person sat in a pitch-black room in the early hours of the morning furiously tapping away on their computer keyboard, trying to hack into the mainframe of a high-security government database containing classified information that they can then exploit for their own gain. Just like in the movies.
You probably don’t picture them trying to hack a healthcare company. Why would anyone do that?
But healthcare is big business for hackers all over the world. In 2022, the industry suffered 860 cyber attacks from different countries globally, from America to Europe to Asia. Perhaps Hollywood should write a script about that.
What exactly are cyber attacks?
Cyber attacks are when a person or group of people try to hack into a company database without authorised access. Usually in order to change, delete or steal information from the company.
As well as directly hacking a database online, any device can also be hacked – whether it’s a company phone, an employee laptop or computer – anything that accesses the company’s database. They’re all vulnerable to attack. And it happens a lot more often than you might think, a lot easier than you might think.
There are lots of different reasons why the hackers might do this. It’s often for some sort of criminal financial gain, but it could just as equally be something completely personal: a revenge attack on a company for something they’ve done, either to the individual hacker themselves or more generally to society as a whole.
The intentions of the hackers aren’t always known. But the need to stop the attacks from happening is becoming more important as companies rely on their databases more and more.
What is cybersecurity?
The internet, phones and laptops are a fundamental part of our everyday working lives. If they’re at risk of attack, the whole company is at risk of attack. So protecting them has never been more critical.
Cybersecurity does just that. The most secure companies take a multi-layered approach to their security, making it harder for hackers to breach multiple barriers without being detected.
One approach is to put measures in place to make sure all employees are staying secure. Something as simple as choosing a strong password for when you log into your laptop or computer can make the company’s whole system safer.
A mistake companies often make is forcing employees to change their passwords regularly, whether it’s every 30, 60 or 90 days. This puts the pressure on employees to think of another strong password. Hacked passwords are usually exploited straight away anyway, meaning changing your password regularly is unlikely to stop a cyber attack.
Why should healthcare care?
in particular is something every healthcare organisation should take seriously. The type of information they hold in their databases – whether it’s medical research or patients’ personal data – can be a big draw for hackers looking to make a big profit. Medical equipment itself is more open to attacks than a lot of typical office equipment. And remote working has brought about the need for employees to be able to access databases from all kinds of different locations beyond their place of work, again leaving their devices open to hackers.
Another issue facing the healthcare industry is their limited amount of time and budget to invest in cybersecurity. Making sure new equipment is secure, educating staff on best practices when it comes to cybersecurity and keeping up to date with the latest security software will always come second when saving lives is the priority. It’s a tricky line for healthcare organisations to tread.
The good news is, there are lots of different ways and types of cybersecurity that are tailor made for the healthcare industry. There are many healthcare organisations out there who have implemented a best-in-class security system that works seamlessly for them and has managed to keep hackers at bay.
It’s just about finding the right approach for your organisation to keep your database and your patients’ data safe.
It might not make an exciting movie, but the healthcare industry would be happy with that.
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