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The Healthcare Industry: A Prime Target for Cyberattacks

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verfasst von:Devan Weed
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In recent years, the healthcare industry has emerged as a prime target for cyberattacks, and this year will be no exception. With the increasing digitization of patient records, the proliferation of connected medical devices, and the allure of valuable personal and medical information, healthcare organizations are facing a growing threat landscape.

In this article, we'll explore the reasons why the healthcare industry is a top target for cyberattacks, backed by statistics from trusted sources and research-driven reports. Additionally, we'll explain why every healthcare organization needs a strong password manager, such as Bitwarden, to bolster their cybersecurity defenses.

The vulnerability of healthcare data

Healthcare records are a treasure trove of sensitive information, including personal identifiers, medical history, insurance details, and even financial data. Cybercriminals strive to monetize this type of information on the dark web, making healthcare organizations an attractive target.

IBM’s report on the average cost of a data breach revealed the healthcare sector experiences the most costly data breaches. And to make matters worse, public reports of hacking incidents targeting healthcare data are increasing rapidly. 

The annual data breach report published by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) revealed the healthcare sector has led all industries in the number of reported breach incidents every year for the past five years. This data shines a light on the vulnerability of the healthcare industry to cyberattacks and data breaches.

Data shows ransomware attacks are on the rise

Ransomware attacks have become increasingly prevalent in the healthcare sector. Attackers encrypt critical patient data and demand hefty ransoms for decryption keys, causing downtime and compromising patient care.

Brian Tanquilut, a healthcare services analyst at Jefferies, notes that these attacks are happening more frequently and with growing severity. 

A Sophos report reveals the average cost of remediating a ransomware attack escalated from $1.27 million to over $1.85 million (a 46% increase) in a single year. Some organizations incurred even greater losses, with Tenet Healthcare reporting a $100 million loss attributed to a ransomware attack, and Scripps Health estimating losses of nearly $113 million primarily due to lost revenue and recovery costs. 

While ransom costs targeting healthcare firms average around $197,000, a mere 4%-7% of healthcare IT budgets are allocated to cybersecurity. Patient safety is also at risk. This is exemplified by a recent lawsuit in which a patient attributed a medication dosage error to a ransomware attack.

How to mitigate threats targeting healthcare data

A report by Ponemon Institute revealed that 42% of healthcare organizations experienced a cyberattack due to unsecure entry points in their systems. To combat these threats effectively, every healthcare organization needs to prioritize cybersecurity measures, and password managers are a cost-efficient solution that can be implemented quickly and have an immediate impact.

Implementing a HIPAA-compliant password manager like Bitwarden enables healthcare organizations to generate and store complex, unique passwords for various systems and accounts, reducing the vulnerability to password-related breaches. Other key benefits include:

  • Strengthening authentication with seamless single-sign-on and directory integration options

  • Enforcing strong password policies such as minimum password length and two-factor authentication, adding an extra layer of security

  • Protecting against credential attacks by eliminating the need to memorize or reuse passwords for multiple accounts, and ensuring employees can share credentials securely

  • Simplifying compliance with data protection regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

Additionally, password managers allow for the enforcement of robust password policies, like two-factor authentication, adding an extra layer of security. By centralizing and encrypting login credentials, healthcare organizations can mitigate the risk of unauthorized access and credential stuffing attacks. Furthermore, compliance with industry regulations such as HIPAA necessitates strong password management practices, making password managers like Bitwarden an essential component of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy for healthcare organizations.

Why Bitwarden is the trusted cybersecurity solution for healthcare organizations

Given the extensive volume of sensitive information healthcare organizations need to manage and protect, it's necessary to adopt a HIPAA-compliant password manager like Bitwarden.

Bitwarden is an open source, enterprise-grade password manager that simplifies the process of generating, storing, and securely sharing unique passwords on any device. For larger healthcare entities that require centralized control over password security, Bitwarden supports advanced features like flexible Single Sign-On (SSO) integration options, LDAP directory service connectors, API access, custom management roles, and activity monitoring through detailed event and audit logs. 

While password managers claim exemption from HIPAA compliance because they encrypt stored data, HIPAA regulations stipulate that systems used for storing personal health information (PHI), even when data is encrypted, must adhere to HIPAA compliance. That’s why Bitwarden has made the commitment to achieving HIPAA compliance, certified by a third-party auditor, to serve as a trusted Business Associate for healthcare organizations subject to HIPAA regulations.

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