The healthcare industry has become more important than ever during the coronavirus pandemic, as the majority of Americans have had to interact with a provider in order to get a coronavirus vaccine, test, or care. This has resulted in an influx of personal medical information to these institutions. That coincided with a global increase in cybercrime as work-from-home policies led to lax cybersecurity enforcement. For an industry with so much sensitive data, it was particularly susceptible to data breaches and ransomware attacks. Furthermore, HIPAA compliance requirements add another layer to security changes to how client data is stored.
This has resulted in a string of attacks against healthcare providers over the past year. In 2020, at least 560 healthcare facilities were impacted by 80 separate cybersecurity attacks, and healthcare was ranked as the second most frequently targeted industry by multiple studies. Entities in the healthcare industry have been forced to overhaul their security practices in order to protect their client data. Multi-factor authentication, single sign-on portals, weekly security checks, and data encryption have all become more prevalent in the industry over the past year in response to increased threats. However, these individual actions may not be enough to protect the industry as a whole.
Virtual appointments, and telehealth more generally, is rapidly expanding within the healthcare industry. Yet, this rapid expansion of telehealth services by a growing number of private and public providers, as aforementioned, comes at a time when the healthcare industry is particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks. Protecting client data after the fact is inadequate when the meetings themselves may be compromised. The challenge of keeping patient information secure with regards to telehealth is unfortunately one that has yet to be adequately addressed. Another concern is lax security protocols and regulations surrounding telehealth specifically–the immediate necessity brought about by the pandemic overrode the long-term security concerns.
As we move towards a post-coronavirus world, the security concerns that fell by the wayside need to now come to front of mind. If you’re interested in learning more about how to bring a security mindset to healthcare, check out our page on IT and security solutions for healthcare or leave a comment!