Cybersecurity in healthcare Vulnerable where it matters most
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The power of big data is evident today in a wide range of industries and businesses, but nowhere are the implications bigger than in healthcare. After all, the healthcare industry isn’t primarily about profit, it’s about something far more important: saving lives. And big data is making healthcare providers far more efficient at doing just that.

Coupled with developing technology, big data is one critical factor that appears set to give the world better healthcare than we could have ever dreamed of just a few decades ago. Healthcare data not only helps track diseases and treatment, it can also help individuals track specific health conditions. Provided with such data, individuals may soon be able to anticipate certain illnesses before even experiencing any symptoms.

Good news, right? Of course. This tech boom in healthcare will inevitably result in longer, healthier lives for more people. But, as with other industries, this increasing dependency on tech has one vulnerability: cyberthreats.

There are few other industries that present such big targets to hackers and even governments. Healthcare data generally includes important and/or useful information about a population that could be used in countless nefarious ways. The WannaCry cyberattack on the UK’s healthcare system in 2017 wound up costing the government there roughly 92 million pounds. Perhaps worst of all, the attack temporarily shut down thousands of computers and healthcare facilities that depend on technological tools to treat patients.

This high-profile attack showed what’s at stake in healthcare cybersecurity. The NHS was using outdated systems and generally was not practicing the highest levels of caution. While businesses in other industries are driven to maintain a high standard of security by a potential loss in profits, the stakes for healthcare companies are much higher – life and death, in fact.

But it’s not just high-profile attacks like WannaCry that are threatening the healthcare industry. In 2017, it was found that the healthcare industry bore the brunt of ransomware attacks – a full 34% of them. Indeed, it seems that healthcare is one of the industries currently most vulnerable to cyberthreats, and where the consequences are the most serious.

We’ll discuss how to rectify this trend in more detail in other posts. But, needless to say, healthcare companies and national systems must continuously invest in updating technologically and regularly testing their own defenses for vulnerabilities that could be exploited. Yes, malicious attackers are getting more and more sophisticated, but there’s no reason the good guys can’t stay one step ahead, especially with lives on the line.

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