Legacy medical equipment, increasing hacker threats create a perfect storm of Cybersecurity Risks

06/29/2021

Our healthcare institution transformed with the help of hi-tech medical devices. It finds how to fight chronic disease for the patients and delivers ease to diagnose the novel disease. But on the other hand, do you think healthcare organizations got threatened by cybersecurity risk? 

Most of the legacy medical devices are based on multiple software and operated by the complex operating system. As a result, Healthcare institutions are more likely to be conscious by taking the seriousness of patient databases that should be protected by all means. Let's get deeper into how medical institutions are at risk of growing hacker threats and the cybersecurity that needs to be protected.

Defining Healthcare Cybersecurity

Anything connected to protecting a computer and its network and the risk of losing data or any information that should not leak is called cybersecurity. So, for example, in healthcare institutions, people from everywhere come for the sake of getting treatment. They will not carry the burden of losing their information as they are not well-aware of system hacking.

In today's digital era, hospitals are using high-powered hospital information systems like electronic health records (EHR), remote monitoring tools, wearable technology, Genome sequencing, etc. Unfortunately, these systems are based on patient personal information and data that suffer a high risk of hacking. The growth of hackers in our society keeps us alert of any mishap, and the healthcare system is very concerned about it.

Digital patient data, telemedicine platforms, medication systems, employee PCs, email, and websites are all susceptible to hacking. In addition, patient monitoring equipment, HVAC systems, access cards, and other smart devices are vulnerable to hacking in most healthcare institutions.

In 2017, when the UK's NHS system got hacked, a big disturbance occurred in hospitals. It is reported that they canceled 20,000 appointments, and almost 1200 pieces of internet-connected medical equipment got affected at a time. 

Why cybersecurity is so threatened in the healthcare sector

The healthcare sector's threats are devastating and challenging to secure patients' data, institution reputation, legacy system, and critical search engine optimization. These are why hackers threaten the healthcare sector because they carry a large amount of data, and they can ask for a big amount of ransom to not cause any harm. 

Unsecure Patient's Data

The data of thousands of people feed in the operating system daily, increasing the causes of the cybersecurity risk. In addition, the unmaintained and outdated systems often result from hacking the healthcare system in these past years. 

It is reported that in October 2019, WizCase scraped out nine unsecured and unsafe websites that help hackers to provide sensitive data such as medical device information, payment card information, and other personal information that is not supposed to be shared openly. 

Making Risk on Institution Reputation

The trust healthcare organization built is helpful to attract people across the world to get treatment from them. However, once they break, it isn't easy to gain such loyalty. It helps to build the institution's reputation. Still, if any mishap occurs, like people finding any inconvenience from the healthcare management, they avoid going there and never recommend it. 

Hackers find it easier to harm the reputation of the hospitals because they possess sensitive data throughout the region. By attacking the database of the patients, they increase the risk of people's insecurities and lower the trust level of the healthcare institutions.

Outdated Legacy System

Healthcare legacy system refers to replacing older operating systems with the newest and even bringing changes in the older ones mainly because old software does not fulfill advanced healthcare and medication requirements. 

There are many more innovations within the tools, and institutions don't prepare to get changes every day as it gets costly for them. Instead, they use outdated machines that may have a huge risk of hacking the system, and they neglect the security issues for the sake of not investing in the updated software. 

Critical Search Engine Optimization

Healthcare organizations possess sensitive types of information across the world and the strongest database that makes them important in the eyes of Google and other search engines. Google and other search engines pay more attention to all the sites which possess critical information about people. 

But all the healthcare sectors should be more concerned about web security and build cybersecurity protection to not lose any information from their operating systems. Research shows that 58% of web users search for online information for specific medical treatments and procedures. So as soon as your website gets ranked to reach more people, it would be best to make your online service immensely protected and more in safe hands.

Common types of healthcare cybersecurity risk

The Healthcare sector is known as the most unsecured network when it comes to hacking outdated systems. Knowing what healthcare cybersecurity risk attacks look like and what attacks they bear, this section will help you a lot.

Malicious Traffic

A sort of HTTP traffic from non-browser apps that tries to connect and establish bad URLs such as command and control servers is the most hazardous and frequent type of malicious traffic. It is the most common healthcare cyberattack where the system is allowed to receive unwanted links, files, documents, and software to be downloaded without any concern of authentication. 

Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are more likely to receive emails that contain links and ask you to click on them. It takes you to the website where you need to perform their desired action to capture your information like changing passwords, inserting your information, or card information. It can be anything that may cause harm in the future. It is the second most common healthcare cybersecurity risk over the Meditech network.

Ransomware

Ransomware is one of the most costly cyber attacks where hackers demand thousands of dollars to restore access to healthcare devices. The malware encrypts the data belonging to the real user and threatens not to be given access unless a handsome amount is paid. Once the system or any medical device gets attacked, the doctors can deprive it to provide treatments to the patients such as CT scan, ultrasound, ECG, and more.

Content Management System (CMS) Attacks

CMS manages the content on the open-source website to make your patients well-aware of the updates and offer a point where they can reach us. Most CMSs, on the other hand, have flaws that make them vulnerable to attack. It is especially true if the CMS hasn't been updated in a long time, leaving it susceptible to security issues.

SQL Injections

SQL technology is used for maintaining and quickly accessing the records of healthcare institutions. It is a way to make faster-medicated services and allow handling all the medical records at your fingertips. However, this data-handling SQL technology can hack and manipulate or delete sensitive data via SQL injections containing malware.

Optimize and secure your healthcare cybersecurity 

To make secure and safe healthcare institutions, you must take the initiative in making databases more systematic to decrease the risk of vulnerability.

Ongoing training of the operators

To minimize the risk of cyberattacks, you need to educate your staff and provide enough knowledge to tackle the inconvenience. For example, tell them the importance of updating software, not inserting the passwords to insecure sites, identify phishing attacks, and more unprotected action that needs authentication. 

Stay up-to-date with technology and software

Every day, new inventions come around. That's why you need to tackle frequent changes in new security policies that come with software updates. Update the software as soon as a new version is released and make your system secure and safe. Avoid using legacy systems to meet the new requirements of data protection and security issues. 

Automate your web security 

You cannot monitor the malware manually as there are ongoing security issues throughout the internet. Instead, automate your webs security system that helps you to trigger suspicious activity on your system. You can get real-time information about any inconvenience and help you to overcome any security-related challenges. 

Website and database backups

Backups always save the life of institutions if any disruption occurs. So make sure your website and database have end-to-end encrypted security. And there will be no difference if any cyberattack or any data is deleted over your website. 

Use HTTPS

It is essential to use HTTPS that ensures the security and safe website certification known as SSL certificate. If any data a patient enters, it is only passed by the server and the healthcare operating system that is encrypted and private by all means. In addition, it helps to endorse your site's safe and well-protected data recorded system.

Bottom Line

Healthcare cybersecurity performs a hard job to make all the Patients' sensitive data safe and secure from the ends of their operating systems. Everyone should understand the importance of web security and deliver trustworthy services so people will not hesitate to share information with you. Healthcare organizations should explicitly identify cybersecurity responsibilities, develop clear protocols for updating software, deal with data breaches, implement VLANs and cloud-based computing, and educate their users to avoid opening dubious code.