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Doing More with Less: Navigating Cybersecurity Challenges in Healthcare

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There was once honor among thieves. When it came to cyber threats, hackers considered the healthcare industry as the "untouchable" sector, shielded by an unspoken understanding that some lines just shouldn't be crossed. However, times have changed. Healthcare is now a prime target for cyber threats, putting patient data and critical services at risk.

So how can healthcare organizations navigate this new normal? If you work in this vital industry, then read on. This blog will dive into the distinctive challenges your organization faces, and it’ll outline effective strategies to overcome these obstacles.

Healthcare Hurdles in Cybersecurity

Most healthcare organizations are struggling to "do more with less" when it comes to their security. Why? Three main reasons: threats are getting nastier, attack surfaces are growing, and budgets are tightening. 

With the rise of ransomware-as-a-service and cybercriminal gangs orchestrating massive attacks, it’s clear that cybercriminal operations are maturing. Plus, healthcare organizations are prime targets because they handle the mother lode of sensitive patient information. Cybercriminals drool over Personally Identifiable Information (PII), and healthcare institutions are a goldmine.

Additionally, tech advancements like remote work and cloud adoption are widening the playground for attackers. At the same time, many healthcare organizations are grappling with outdated operating systems. As you might know, this was one of the last industries to “go remote,” and today, we’re seeing more telehealth appointments and more nurses and practitioners working from home to field patients’ needs and inquiries. And the cost and complexity of keeping up with these demands, or replacing these outdated systems, just adds a layer of vulnerability to an already challenging landscape.

Then, with economic uncertainties looming, organizations are tightening their belts on cybersecurity spending. Healthcare organizations already struggle with limited resources to meet their security needs, both in terms of budget constraints and personnel shortages. This just adds pressure on organizations like yours to optimize your cybersecurity resources effectively. This means attaining cybersecurity strategies that deliver maximum impact without breaking the bank.

And to top it all off, healthcare organizations operate under stringent regulations and in an environment where the stakes are very high. Take the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) as an example. The consequences of failing to safeguard patient data extend beyond financial losses; they include hefty fines, legal repercussions, and reputational damage. In 2022 alone, 55% of the financial penalties imposed by OCR (Office for Civil Rights) were on small medical practices. This elevated level of accountability places an additional layer of complexity on healthcare cybersecurity efforts.

So what can you do to keep your systems healthy? It can be as simple as educating, staying proactive, and embracing the right technologies.  

Don’t Surrender to the New Normal of Healthcare Cyber Threats 

With healthcare now facing a relentless barrage of cyber threats, it’s more important than ever to secure your patients’ data and ensure critical services remain uninterrupted. The challenges, however, are multifaceted—from defending against increased attacks to being strategic with spending. To navigate this new normal, healthcare organizations must prioritize securing their environments.

Tips for Overcoming These Challenges

Employee Training:

  • Foster a culture of cybersecurity awareness to ensure staff members understand the critical role they play in safeguarding patient data.
  • Instigate ongoing cybersecurity training, like monthly security awareness training, to equip employees with the tools and knowledge they need to spot and combat cyber threats.

Adopt a Proactive Stance:

  • Make sure you’re covering all your bases before hackers come hacking, using frameworks like the NIST Cybersecurity Framework to ensure you have the right solutions in place. 
  • Prioritize proactive measures over reactive or strictly preventive approaches, making sure you have the right mix of processes, people, and technology.
  • Consider a managed EDR solution to free up internal teams for strategic tasks, ensuring you can be proactive even with resource constraints.

Harness Technology:

In the marathon of healthcare cybersecurity, facing these challenges head-on isn’t an option. It's a necessity. To tackle these challenges, healthcare organizations need a no-nonsense approach—educate, collaborate, embrace the right technology, and be proactive. 

In short, staying cool, collected, and well-informed is the key to successfully navigating the evolving landscape and ensuring the protection of sensitive healthcare data.

For all the good you do, you deserve to be secure. That’s why Huntress stands alongside you 24/7, protecting your sensitive health records and vulnerable endpoints from malicious threats. Learn more about how Huntress can be integral to your healthcare IT systems.

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