Hospitals hold a lot of sensitive data. When they are hacked, patient information is exposed, putting patients at risk because the hackers can use stolen personal information in several identity theft schemes. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been working hard to protect hospitals from cyberattacks, but the fact is that while they do the best they can, there will always be breaches and more work to be done. The government is trying everything to ensure that hospitals are protected and that patients are aware of any breaches as quickly as possible when they do occur.
Hospitals as an important part of the critical infrastructure
The hospital is an essential part of the critical infrastructure, and it needs to be protected.
A cyberattack can threaten patients and staff by compromising critical systems. For example, if hackers gain access to a hospital’s network, they could alter patient records or change how certain medications are dispensed. A cyberattack on a hospital may also disrupt the power supply or other essential services needed for patient care. The safety of patients should always be considered when developing security strategies for hospitals.
Cyberattacks are inevitable—it’s just a matter of time before one happens at your facility or another healthcare organization near you—so it’s better to prepare now with tools like
- training programs
- internal policies
- and guidelines that have been updated recently with new information related to cybersecurity threats (e.g., phishing emails), etcetera.)
Hospitals need special protection to keep patients safe.
As the healthcare enterprise becomes increasingly reliant on technology and data, hospitals are critical infrastructure. How do you protect hospitals from cyberattacks? What about physical threats like hurricanes or tornadoes?
These questions are becoming more critical as threats to hospital safety become more common. In 2020, 92 distinct ransomware attacks impacted over 600 clinics, and healthcare facilities, affecting over 18 million patient information. Cyberattacks also pose an ongoing threat to hospital security and patient privacy, which is why it’s so essential for hospitals to have reliable protection against them.
Hospitals are one of the essential parts of our critical infrastructure, so it’s crucial to ensure they are protected. Hospitals contain sensitive information and technology that cybercriminals or other bad actors can target. They also need to be protected against physical threats, such as natural disasters. Since hospitals are often considered part of “critical infrastructure”—a term used to describe vital systems that keep society running smoothly—they must be able to withstand attacks while protecting patient privacy, confidentiality, and safety at all times.
Some Of the Specific Things That Can Be Done to Protect Hospitals Against Cyberattacks
- Firewalls: A firewall, either software or hardware, screens incoming and outgoing data packets to protect against unauthorized access.
- Antivirus software: Antivirus programs can detect and remove viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, and other malware from the computer before they cause harm to the machines or private information (such as credit card numbers). Make sure you’re running the latest version of your antivirus software so that it’s protected against the latest threats.
- Antimalware software: Malicious websites can infect the system with malware if we visit them by clicking on links in spam email messages or instant messages from friends;
- downloading files from the Internet;
- opening attachments in emails sent by someone you don’t know;
- Visiting pirated sites offering free music or movies, etc.
- Anti-Spam software reduces spam emails coming into mailboxes located on servers hosted at our Data Centers.
- Anti-Spyware software prevents adware programs that install themselves onto users’ computers without their knowledge or consent.
- Anti-Adware suppresses advertising content displayed by applications such as web browsers while they are running by blocking it from loading correctly into viewable windows within those applications.
There are various practices and systems in place to protect critical infrastructure and hospitals.
One of the most significant things you can do as a hospital employee is to ensure that the computers are protected by using antivirus software. That includes the operating system and all applications, such as web browsers and email clients.
Of course, hospitals keep their critical infrastructure protected with firewalls, blocking malicious traffic from entering or leaving the network. They also use anti-malware software to detect and prevent malware infections on individual devices or servers within their networks.
Hospitals should also practice good cyber hygiene when it comes to protecting data at rest (stored on devices), in transit (moving between systems or across networks), or in use (being processed on computers). They can do this by encrypting all data stored on-premises and any data being transferred over external connections, such as when doctors access records from home and keeping backup copies of sensitive information offsite where they won’t be affected by ransomware attacks against any single device within its network.
Is there anything hospital patients can do to reduce their risk?
The most reasonable thing they can do to decrease the risk of becoming a cyber-attack victim is to be aware of the risks and how to avoid them.
- If you use hospital computers, be cautious about what you click. Don’t open email attachments from unfamiliar senders, and try not to open any links in emails that look suspicious—even if they come from people you know.
- Be wary of phone calls asking for personal information like the home address, social security number, or health insurance provider’s name and number.
As you can see, hospitals are a vital part of the critical infrastructure. They must be protected against cyberattacks and other threats so that their patients can receive the care they need without interruption. To help ensure that this happens, it’s crucial for you as a patient or visitor to be mindful of the risks and take appropriate precautions.
There are many ways that hospitals and other critical infrastructure can keep people safe. The information in this article will hopefully make every patient feel more secure in their hospital experience. Whenever you have any concerns, I encourage you to reach out to your healthcare provider and ask how they ensure safety while under their care.