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Healthcare industry a prime target for cybercriminals: 4 crucial facts

Learn why the industry is a prime target for cybercriminals and what it means for patients

The healthcare industry has become an increasingly attractive target for cybercriminals, posing grave risks to patient safety, data security, and the integrity of critical systems.

As healthcare organizations grapple with the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape, Trevor Cooke, Privacy Expert at EarthWeb, explores four essential insights into this critical concern.

Fact 1: Cyberattacks on Healthcare Organizations are Escalating

The frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks targeting healthcare organizations have been on a steady rise.

A March 2024 report says, there has been a reported 256-percent rise in hacking-related breaches and a 264-percent surge in ransomware incidents affecting the healthcare sector over the last five years.

This alarming trend highlights the relentless efforts of cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities within healthcare systems.

Fact 2: The Consequences are Dire

The consequences of successful cyberattacks on healthcare organizations can be devastating.

Beyond the potential for data breaches and financial losses, compromised systems can directly impact patient care and safety.

Disruptions to critical systems, such as electronic health records (EHRs) or medical devices, can delay treatments, compromise patient privacy, and even put lives at risk.

Fact 3: Patient Data is a Lucrative Target

One of the primary motivations driving cybercriminals to target healthcare organizations is the high value of patient data on the black market.

According to a report, the average cost of a healthcare data breach in 2023 was a staggering $10.93 million.

This figure illustrates the immense financial incentive for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities and gain access to sensitive patient information.

Fact 4: Healthcare IT Systems are Complex and Vulnerable

The complexity of healthcare IT systems, which often involve a myriad of interconnected devices, applications, and networks, presents a significant challenge in terms of cybersecurity.

As Trevor notes, “Healthcare organizations are particularly vulnerable because they have a large attack surface, with many connected devices and systems that need to be secured.”

In the face of these alarming facts, healthcare organizations must prioritize robust cybersecurity measures, including regular risk assessments, employee training, and the implementation of advanced security technologies.

“The healthcare industry must do everything it takes to better protect patient data, ensure continuity of care, and safeguard the integrity of critical systems against the ever-present threat of cybercriminals,” Trevor says.

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