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The life-saving capabilities of technology in a healthcare environment are beyond dispute. Medical professionals in hospital environments rely on networked medical devices to access and share patient information rapidly to reduce the time it takes to make life-saving decisions and deliver essential patient care.
Connected devices in healthcare environments allow medical professionals to monitor patients more closely, improve medical assistance and use data for analytics and medical research. Technology is allowing medical staff to work smarter with earlier interventions and diagnoses in the treatment process.
But the increased use of IT in healthcare is not without its risks.
Healthcare cyber attacks in the US rose by 55% in 2020, impacting more than 26 million people. Attacks on healthcare providers now represent a $13.2 billion industry, with the average data breach cost per record rising to $499 last year.
Many devices are running outdated software, making them vulnerable to cybersecurity risks. Ransomware attacks, malware, and hackers target vulnerabilities in medical devices to access and steal patient information and compromise devices – which ultimately can put patients in danger.
Not only are medical devices critical to modern-day patient care, but they are also extremely expensive. Nefarious attacks that disable or compromise MRI machines, for instance, can have potentially traumatic effects on the healthcare department.
An Amplified Threat
Healthcare is a particularly attractive target for cybercriminals, and that threat is amplified by the willingness of healthcare organizations to allow staff to use their own devices and install them on their networks, opening up an access point for malware from an employee’s computer or mobile device to gain entry to the IT network and put critical medical devices at risk.
There is a real risk that healthcare networks will become IT ‘jungles’ with large swathes of unregistered devices and increased security threats that can wreak havoc on organizations.
The 2021 Ransomware Threat Report from Palo Alto Networks found cyber extortion had “reached crisis levels” as attackers focused on industries…