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Hackers Shift Focus to Smaller Hospitals and Clinics

While hackers placed their focus on larger targets for many years, in recent years, their attention has been turned toward smaller hospitals and clinics. Unfortunately, these smaller organizations are more vulnerable to cyber threats in the first place and more vulnerable to the damages these cyber incidents can cause. Sadly, some smaller clinics and hospitals may need more resources to adequately invest in securing their data, making them easier targets for hackers.

Moreover, larger healthcare facilities frequently use these smaller organizations as part of their care network. As a result, they often contain extensive records, sensitive patient information, and EHRs that can be misused if it falls into the wrong hands. Hackers can use this data for identity theft or even blackmail. 

Even more worrying, once hackers gain access to these small clinics and hospitals, they can easily breach other parts of the healthcare system – leading to greater risks for patients and providers alike.

Cybersecurity Threats to the Healthcare Industry

In terms of what these threats can look like in real life, the reports and statistics are staggering.

For example, cybersecurity breaches associated with specialty clinics rose from 23% in 2021 to 31% in 2022, as reported by cybersecurity firm Critical Insight.

Additionally, a report from FierceHealthcare explains, “EMR systems have emerged as a serious target for hackers, and increasingly breaches are occurring on third-party business associates, rather than on providers themselves.”

In 2017, healthcare organization cyberattacks cost the U.S. healthcare industry more than $6 billion. As for the cost on the individual healthcare organizations themselves, the average healthcare breach cost a hospital $2.1 million in 2017.

Over two million dollars is often more than a small hospital or clinic can afford to pay—fast forward six years later, and the situation is even more dire. 

As UpGuard reports:

“For the twelfth consecutive year, the healthcare industry has the highest data breach costs. In 2022, the healthcare industry is paying an average of US$ 10.10 million for a data breach, 9.4% more than the figure in 2021.”

With a rise in both the prevalence and severity of these cyberattacks, the consequences can be particularly devastating for smaller hospitals and clinics.

So, what does this mean for healthcare organizations?

Healthcare Organizations Must Be Proactive

With all of this in mind, it’s now more important than ever for healthcare organizations of all sizes to take proactive steps to protect against cyberattacks and protect their data.

This includes taking a number of steps, including:

  • Having suitable security measures in place
  • Staying up to date on the latest trends in cybersecurity
  • Investing in employee training and other key strategies

We will explore each of these steps (and others) in detail next.

Cybersecurity measures for healthcare organizations

Without a robust cybersecurity strategy, healthcare organizations are leaving the door open for hackers. To adequately protect themselves, healthcare organizations must invest in cybersecurity measures to keep their data safe.

This includes steps like:

  • Implementing two-factor authentication
  • Installing firewalls
  • Encrypting data both in transit and at rest
  • Deploying advanced solutions to detect threats
  • Providing regular security awareness training for employees

Using third-party vendors or managed service providers who specialize in healthcare security services will offer healthcare organizations a decisive advantage in terms of both cybersecurity and compliance, as they can provide an extra level of protection against cyberattacks. In addition, these vendors can also assist with HIPAA compliance and other vital concerns—more on that in a moment.

Keeping up with healthcare cybersecurity trends

Healthcare organizations should also consider investing in threat intelligence solutions to detect potential threats before they become a problem. This helps them stay one step ahead of hackers and protect themselves from data breaches.

At the same time, when healthcare organizations stay updated on the latest healthcare cybersecurity trends, this gives them an even better understanding of what hackers may be targeting to prepare themselves accordingly. To do this, healthcare organizations should consider the following:

  • Subscribing to healthcare cybersecurity newsletters
  • Joining online communities focused on healthcare security
  • Attending relevant conferences or other events

Find a Cyber Security Archive Action Plan here.

Investing in employee training

Finally, investing in employee training is a vital part of any successful healthcare cybersecurity strategy. After all, cybersecurity is only as strong as its weakest link. That’s why it’s crucial for healthcare organizations to ensure their employees are trained and knowledgeable about the potential risks associated with cyberattacks.

This can include anything from:

  • Teaching them how to recognize phishing emails and suspicious links
  • Providing regular refresher courses on best practices for keeping data secure
  • Ensuring employees understand the importance of reporting potentially suspicious activity (See Something. Say Something.)

By taking these proactive steps, healthcare organizations of all sizes can ensure their data – and their patient’s data – is safe from cyberattacks. In doing so, they can provide higher care levels while keeping costs and patient privacy top of mind.

Partnering with Healthcare Data Management Services

Regulatory bodies, such as HIPAA, have issued more comprehensive guidance for small and large organizations when protecting patient information. Healthcare organizations should consult these guidelines regularly to ensure they comply with all applicable regulations.

However, compliance can become an issue without expert guidance on interpreting HIPAA and other guidelines. That’s why many healthcare organizations turn to third-party healthcare data management services, including Two Point, which provides the necessary expertise and resources to stay compliant.

These services can provide things like developing a strategy to manage legacy data, risk assessment, policy creation, security awareness training programs, and managed security solutions. In doing so, healthcare organizations can create a comprehensive cybersecurity plan that protects their data from hackers.

Final Thoughts: Cybersecurity for Smaller Hospitals and Clinics

Ultimately, investing in the right healthcare cybersecurity solutions is essential for any healthcare provider or organization wanting to protect patient data and remain compliant with regulations. By taking the steps outlined above, healthcare organizations of all sizes can ensure their sensitive data is secure from cyberattacks.

Contact Two Point today to discuss the options for protecting healthcare organizations from cyberattacks. Our team of medical data experts can provide the help and guidance you need to protect healthcare data during data mining, archiving, and more.

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