Cyber Security and Healthcare During the Current Radiology Era

Cyber Security and Healthcare

Anticipating where hackers might strike and determining how to prevent attacks is getting more critical day-by-day for healthcare professionals.

Continued digitization has brought in remarkable benefits to the healthcare industry, making all the players more connected and efficient than ever. Still, with the overwhelming number of patient data located on the interconnected networks, the importance of actively protecting all of them cannot be overstated.

Hackers have evolved continuously to effectively adapt the technology. They are always seeking new and more vulnerable sectors to attack, encompassing the healthcare space.

For radiology functionalities, the risks of experiencing cyber-attacks have multiplied over the past few years with widespread industry consolidation and also because this profession is becoming a predominantly digital practice.

With many radiologists working remotely due to COVID-19, hackers have got more opportunities to breach private data with employees working on comparatively less secure mobile devices and home-based wireless networks.

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Healthcare institutions must invest in strengthening their cybersecurity immediately, to prevent the possibility of all attacks. As the industry transitions to an evolving virtual environment, taking immediate action to save the future of the healthcare practice and, more importantly, the future of the patients’ health information – is the need of the hour.

The incredible growth of the healthcare industry technology has pressed on the need to make data and information instantaneously accessible to all. However, this immediate access to private data has creates huge opportunities for hackers to invade the organizations’ systems, majorly affecting the whole industry.

Cyber-crimes cost the healthcare industry around $6.2 billion annually, with organizations individually losing an average of around $3.7 million. There are also many other costs businesses could face with cyber-crimes, including huge post-breach costs, potential fines from HIPAA, and even shocking lawsuits.

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According to a 2016 report from BakerHostetler, around 24% of healthcare data breaches were the fault of employee errors.

It’s hard to predict where hackers might attack next and how they will do so. Cybercrimes can stretch from infecting networks in malware attacks, breaching systems for patients’ PHI, or deliberately tampering with scans and images in ransomware attacks. This uncertainty can make data security and preparing systems for attacks an even more challenging process.

With imaging, patient data, and other information streamlined across multiple networks and facilities, there are greater opportunities for hackers to steal, breach, and manipulate personal data of patients.

There are many different avenues to bolster healthcare cybersecurity efforts. One of the most crucial steps is implementing proper security systems, such as artificial intelligence (AI) solutions – as they are designed to constantly understand patterns and protect patient data automatically while anticipating and identifying any nefarious activity.

Another step in this era of remote healthcare is to add protection for all mobile devices used by company employees. While the amount of mobile devices at the disposal is helpful to radiologists and their practices, they also pose a great threat to network security.

With the pandemic forcing many radiologists and physicians into remote working, they have relied on their wireless networks and mobile devices. These devices and networks are least secured than those at their hospitals or practices, increasing the vulnerability for hacking.

Implementing the best practices of security settings can be a significant step in keeping all private data secure, at least for the remaining pandemic, and maybe even beyond.

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Network breaches can be detrimental to healthcare practices and their patients in multiple ways. It is critical that practices improve, and maybe getting an overhaul, their cybersecurity efforts.

The evolution and expansion of industry technology only increase the chances of network practices losing invaluable information and data. Since many practices are already struggling to survive during the current turbulent times, one network hack incident could turn to be the final nail in the coffin for healthcare organizations and their affected patients.