The digital revolution in healthcare has brought with it numerous advantages, such as more accurate diagnoses, more effective treatments, and greater accessibility to medical services. However, this transformation has also generated a growing concern: cybersecurity. As healthcare systems become more reliant on technology, the risks of cyberattacks that can severely impact patient safety and the integrity of medical data are also increasing.
The challenges to making the sector safer are numerous, including the lack of formal cybersecurity training for healthcare professionals. Doctors, nurses, radiology technicians, and other specialists are trained to care for patients, not to protect IT systems. However, today’s reality requires them to play an active role in defending against cyber threats. For example, they should take steps to make it harder for cybercriminals to enter systems by not sharing their passwords with others, as well as being on the lookout for the slightest sign of a possible attack.
This doesn’t just refer to protecting routers and computers. Medical equipment such as anesthesia machines, infusion pumps, point-of-care systems, and MRI are also vulnerable to cyberattacks. A successful attack on these devices could endanger the lives of patients. Therefore, it is imperative that healthcare professionals are aware of the risks and are empowered to take preventive measures.
In Brazil, several cases of intrusions have already been disclosed, causing systemic instability in health companies and total interruption of the digital environment because of attacks and data hijacking. The attacks were mostly ransomware, with hackers entering peripherals and then critical systems and sensitive data.
In June of this year, a hospital in Idaho (United States) suffered a cyberattack that forced the diversion of ambulances to other health centers for more than 24 hours. The 88-bed Idaho Falls Community Hospital had its computers compromised, prompting doctors and nurses to use manual methods, such as pen and paper, to keep patient records. Although the hospital was still caring for the sick, staff were scrambling to fully restore the affected systems. This incident highlights the challenges that healthcare companies face around the world and the damage that intrusions can generate.
Any breach in systems can result in serious consequences, from compromising patient privacy to the actual risk of injury or death. Healthcare systems store highly sensitive information such as medical records, insurance information, personal data, and even details of surgical procedures.
The recommendation is to be aware of the following risks and dangers related to online data and systems:
– Data leakage: Leaking healthcare information can lead to fraud, identity theft, and even blackmail. Medical data is valuable in the market.– Ransomware: Hospitals and clinics can be targets of ransomware attacks, where critical systems are locked down until a ransom is paid. This can seriously hinder healthcare delivery.– Unauthorized access: Doctors and patients rely on the accessibility of medical records, but unauthorized access can result in severe privacy violations.– Service disruption: Cyberattacks can disrupt the operation of medical equipment, electronic health record (EHR) systems, and even power systems in hospitals.
Protecting against cyber threats in the healthcare industry should be a constant priority. For this, training, up-to-date systems, and continuous monitoring are essential.
Systems and software must be up to date with the latest security patches to avoid known vulnerabilities. If possible, encryption should be implemented to protect the most critical data. Added to this, continuous monitoring needs to be part of the routine of companies to analyze, in real time, the performance of the systems and, thus, be able to quickly detect any intrusions.
There is no doubt that patient safety is a primary concern for the healthcare community, as cyber incidents can cause delays in triage and treatment. Healthcare organizations must invest in robust cybersecurity programs and maintain up-to-date systems to ensure the security of patient data and the continuity of healthcare services.
Therefore, it can be said that cybersecurity in the healthcare industry is not an option. It is an urgent need, as the protection of health data is vital to ensure the well-being of all, as well as the continuity of services and the maintenance of trust in institutions. Cyber threats are constantly evolving, and it is the responsibility of everyone – from healthcare professionals to policymakers to citizens – to collaborate in defending the integrity of healthcare systems and patient privacy. As the popular saying goes, you can’t play with health.
With more than 5,000 clients, Blockbit is one of the leading manufacturers of cybersecurity solutions, empowering businesses to protect themselves against a wide range of threats, vulnerabilities, and cyberattacks, whether internal or external, generic or specific.