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Trouble shooting can stop a healthcare data breach

Author: Ermis Sfakiyanudis / Source: Digital Commerce 360

It is no secret that healthcare systems are one of the top targets for data breaches. According to a recent Health Information and Management Systems Society survey, more than half of hospital executives reported that their hospitals had been targeted by ransomware in the past year.

CRN reported that data breaches increased by more than 35% from 2015 to 2016. Last year, the medical sector ranked second in the percentage of breaches reported, and it was ranked highest for the number of records compromised at more than 113 million, according to an Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) report.

While there are many reasons for this—which we will cover—what really matters is how healthcare companies can better protect themselves and the millions of patients that they serve from data breaches.

Why more data breaches?

One of the main reasons the healthcare industry is susceptible to security breaches is the rapid implementation of Electronic Health Records (EHRs). The adoption of EHRs rose from less than 10% in 2009 to 97% by 2014. This rush of implementation resulted in a lag in sufficient security measures.

Speaking of rush, another factor that inhibits healthcare companies from aggressively pursuing data protection is related to the nature of healthcare providers’ work. In many cases, physicians require urgent access to patients’ healthcare records to quickly provide necessary care. Cybersecurity precautions such as encryption could slow down their patient response time. Additionally, since healthcare systems are inherently integrated, cybersecurity upgrades would require multiple costly software and hardware updates. Complicating the situation, most medical devices have a long development lifecycle and are subsequently infrequently upgraded.

With more and more data driven by the Internet of Things (IoT), healthcare providers must consider data protection for all connected devices leveraged by employees working both onsite and in…

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