Meredith is the CEO of AutoRABITa leader in DevSecOps and data protection for regulated industries.
The healthcare industry plays a critical role in society. But the private nature of our health—and, therefore, our healthcare services—means these companies hold our most sensitive information. Unfortunately, gaining access to that information is extremely attractive to hackers and cybercriminals.
Healthcare companies continue to be among the most frequent targets of cyberattacks. And while huge, global healthcare companies might seem like the best targets for these attacks, the reality is that companies of every size have something worth stealing. In fact, small- and mid-sized hospitals are the healthcare sector with the highest risk of experiencing a cyberattack.
These trends have shown no signs of slowing down over the past years, which is why it’s important for healthcare companies to put systems in place now to prepare for the coming year. We’ll dig into the five factors healthcare companies must consider to remain secure in 2023.
1. Understanding the importance of awareness.
2. Addressing legacy vulnerabilities.
3. Maximizing the efforts of shrinking teams.
4. Staying secure while prioritizing lean spending.
5. Meeting the constant concerns of compliance.
1. Understanding The Importance Of Awareness
We all know there are bad people on the internet who want to steal our information. But how do they do it? And how do our actions help or hurt their attempts to access our protected files?
The IT department of healthcare companies must go beyond understanding these threats themselves—they must communicate these threats to everyone who interacts with their platform.
Ransomware attacks are increasingly common in the healthcare industry. A study on ransomware found that almost a third of healthcare companies experienced this type of attack in 2020. The increased use of remote work was the main reason for this trend. Team members need to be aware of what devices they’re using to access healthcare systems.
Phishing tactics through spoofed emails are another common source of cyberattacks, which can be mitigated through vigilance and heightened awareness by team members.
2. Addressing Legacy Vulnerabilities
Digital transformations are becoming increasingly common in the healthcare industry. Older platforms and systems are being phased out in favor of updated software, streamlining processes and heightening security measures.
According to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), 80% of health systems plan to increase investments in their digital health over the next five years.
And while this will yield great results in the future, it won’t do anything to protect healthcare systems in 2023. Even those that have started this process are likely still using older software as they transition to updated applications.
Technical debt, outdated permissions and other potential liabilities lurk in these older systems. Healthcare companies need to scan legacy environments for vulnerabilities to address bugs or errors before they’re exploited by a cybercriminal.
3. Maximizing The Efforts Of Shrinking Teams
The healthcare industry has seen a mass exodus of workers since 2020. Teams are being stretched thin at every level, which can lead to more mistakes and difficulty keeping up with demand. Support systems need to be in place to help the remaining team members accomplish their goals.
Healthcare companies must source automated data security tools to cover this gap and address continued threats. Consistent oversight through automated tools like data backup and recovery or a policy manager ensures internal rules are being enforced and team members have the support they need to increase productivity. Equipping your team with automated tools expands its ability to find and rectify potentially dangerous errors.
4. Staying Secure While Prioritizing Lean Spending
A major challenge of 2023 is going to be a continuation of what we’re already seeing. The economic slowdown evident throughout 2022 will continue into next year and exacerbate the challenges for IT and data security teams.
ROI is always a major factor in sourcing data security tools, but it will be critical to streamlining operations while navigating difficult economic times.
The portion of the healthcare industry’s IT budget dedicated to cybersecurity is currently 6% or less, and even this could decrease if the economic situation continues its downward trajectory. That’s why IT teams need to stretch their cybersecurity budgets as far as they will go. We’ve mentioned the importance of automation, and this reinforces the criticality of reducing manual processes now.
5. Meeting The Constant Concerns Of Compliance
Protecting personally identifiable information (PII) and protected health information (PHI) is a constant concern for healthcare companies. Even unintentional errors have the potential for incredibly negative consequences for any affected patients as well as team members, along with costly fines and penalties to the company itself.
Healthcare companies need to prioritize collecting and storing documentation of security policies, assessments and any other activities that impact applicable data security regulations. 2023 will pose a series of unique challenges to the healthcare industry. Remaining secure is increasingly difficult but possible with concerted effort and vigilance.
Cybercriminals are continually adapting to the latest technology, thus continuing to advance with sophistication and causing cyberattacks to rise exponentially. It’s imperative for enterprises to allocate a special budget to invest in cybersecurity solutions in order to protect patient and customer data. By integrating automation, your team can save time and focus on providing valuable applications and updates to your customers.
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