Why the Healthcare Industry Is Ransomware’s Number One Target

Of all the industries in the world that need urgent ransomware protection, the healthcare industry is at the top of the list. But why? Well, we all know that patient confidentiality is paramount. If you, as a healthcare company, put your patients’ personal health information at risk, this could damage your business reputation beyond repair. 

Hackers use ransomware as a means to essentially blackmail you into giving them what they want. They can use ransomware to put up an impassable barrier between you and your data, blocking access completely, and they often threaten to erase all data unless a ransom is paid.

The personal, sensitive nature of medical information and its essential use in treating patients makes the data used and stored by healthcare providers a prime target for ransomware.

Let’s take a look at this topic in greater detail.

The Valuable Information You Hold

As a healthcare business, you hold vital information about your patients. Everything from their blood type and personal medical history to their financial information is needed to treat them.

This data is extremely valuable. Financial information can, of course, be used for fraud and theft. But even medical information can be used for spear phishing attacks and other socially engineered cyber crimes.

Healthcare businesses hold large amounts of data that is vastly useful for cyber criminals, making them clear targets.

The Urgency of the Industry

Cyber criminals and those who use ransomware know the urgent need to access patient data in order to provide essential treatments.

Doctors and surgeons need to access an individual’s medical history before providing treatment or surgery. That means that a lack of access to essential information can threaten dangerously ill patients’ health. But even daily checkups and other less urgent appointments grind to a halt when saved insurance and financial information is blocked from access.

Because of the necessity of the data, many healthcare businesses will be more likely to pay a ransom in order to get patient information back quickly rather than wait out the attack and risk losing access completely. 

Healthcare Businesses Are Often Underprepared

Cyber criminals using ransomware know exactly the types of targets that make easy prey. Unlike banks and other high-profit businesses, healthcare companies are often underprepared when it comes to their cybersecurity.

For example, the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack affected over 200,000 victims, and at least 300,000 computers were infected. The kicker is, this attack could have been prevented entirely if all computers had been updated with a software patch that was released a few months earlier. This lapse in cybersecurity allowed the attackers room to infect computers and companies across national borders.

For healthcare businesses that do not have comprehensive cybersecurity plans in place, working with a professional cybersecurity services specialist may be the best option to get systems up to date when it comes to protection. A professional IT provider can also help medical businesses remain compliant with HIPAA regulations that affect data security.

What Can You Do?

Every business in the healthcare industry should remain vigilant. Instead of thinking “It will never happen to me,” they should recognize that as part of a targeted industry, it is more likely than not that cyber criminals will leverage attacks against them. Knowing this, healthcare businesses need to protect your business and data with proactive, comprehensive security measures.

Strong firewalls, a constantly monitored system, and employee security training are a good place to start to get your healthcare cybersecurity up to par.