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The importance of cyber security in the healthcare sector

Posted by Steven Laidler on 17 May 2019, 15:57:21

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The impact and issues surrounding cyber-security are becoming more apparent for organisations across the UK:

  • 43% of businesses surveyed experienced a cyber-security breach or attack in the last 12 months
  • 19% of charities also fell victim to an attack or breach
  • 30% of firms have appointed board members for cyber-security
  • 48% of attacks were fraudulent emails directing users to fraudulent websites
  • 13% of attacks suffered by businesses were related to malware and ransomware attacks

To that end, understanding the issues surrounding cyber-security threats has never been more important.

A matter of life and death

For most businesses protecting their critical assets means the safeguarding of company data and information. In Healthcare however, this term means so much more when a critical asset becomes the safety of patients and potentially the difference between life and death.

As an elevated state of alert continues for healthcare organisations, cyber security threats should not limit your ability to deliver and improve patient care.

On this note, hospitals and the health care industry are being deliberately targeted by hackers, cyber criminals and spies seeking a treasure trove of personal and financial information, a new report from BDO has claimed. 

Gregory Garrett, head of international cyber security at BDO said: “The healthcare industry has the electronic healthcare records on individuals, they have the personable identifiable information on individuals and in most cases they also have their payment card information.”

As the 8th most targeted industry, healthcare guards not only protected health information (PHI) and payment card data, but also critical life-saving systems and devices. The increasing amount of sensitive electronic medical record (EMR) data in healthcare needs to be utilised and protected at all times, unfortunately meaning it has become a highly lucrative target to cyber-criminals.

Cyber security breaches can have dire consequences for the NHS

The debilitating consequences of a cyber-attack:

Probably the most high-profile – and most damaging – ransomware attack in the UK was the NHS WannaCry attack in May 2017. Over a third of NHS trusts were disrupted in the attack – resulting in at least 19,000 NHS appointments cancelled as a result.

Whilst the attack was stopped, the fallout of the attack was very damaging, costing a total of £92m.

Speaking at the time former chairman of NHS Digital, Kingsley Manning, indicated that a ‘failure to upgrade old computer systems at a local level within the NHS had contributed to the rapid spread of the malware and ‘a lack of focus, a lack of taking it seriously” for individual NHS organisations’ failure to keep up with cyber security improvements.

Looking to learn more:

It goes without saying that data security is critical to any business, but a breach in healthcare can release a person’s most sensitive and private information or in some instances, be a matter of life and death.

In order to understand the cyber security challenges facing NHS organisations in 2019, download Celerity’s latest eBook and discover what healthcare companies can do to safeguard their IT infrastructure. 

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