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Recent Cyber Attacks on Healthcare Systems

Posted: Mar 2024

The healthcare industry has been under fire recently, facing multiple cyber attacks that have crippled essential services and exposed sensitive patient data. These recent attacks underscore the growing threat that cybercrime poses to the healthcare industry. Over the past year numerous healthcare institutions have fallen victim to threat actors. The increasing nature of these attacks means more and more patients, doctors and families are being affected. This resulted in emergency rooms being shut down and ambulances being diverted, as was the case with Prospect Medical Holdings of Los Angeles, which has hospitals and clinics in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Texas. The Austin-based ESO Solutions breach resulted in hackers being able to access personal and patient health information. Compromised data included names, dates of birth, injury type, injury date, treatment date, treatment type. 

Hospitals and healthcare providers are increasingly reliant on electronic health records (EHRs) and other digital systems to store patient data and manage operations. However, these systems are also vulnerable to cyberattacks, which can have serious consequences for patient care and financial stability.

 

 

Healthcare Systems on the Frontlines:

      • Chicago Children’s Hospital: In a concerning incident, a cyberattack struck Chicago Children’s Hospital in February 2024. The attack forced the hospital to shut down its systems to contain the breach and safeguard patient information. This critical measure resulted in doctors and nurses being unable to access electronic medical records for over a month, significantly hindering patient care. The FBI is actively investigating the attack, and as of March 5, 2024, some systems are gradually being brought back online. [1]

      • Cyber attack on Change Healthcare: The healthcare industry is grappling with the widespread repercussions of a cyber attack on Change Healthcare, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth. This attack has severely disrupted healthcare operations, causing delays in providers receiving payments. Hospitals are left scrambling to find alternative solutions to maintain financial stability. The federal government has stepped in to provide some assistance; however, healthcare providers maintain that these efforts are insufficient. The financial strain of this attack may force some independent practices to shut down if they cannot meet their financial obligations. [2, 3]

    The interconnected nature of healthcare data makes it a prime target for cybercriminals. These attacks not only disrupt crucial medical services but also raise serious concerns about patient privacy.

    A Bridgehead IT team member based in one of the affected geographic areas had the following to say, “Cyberattacks are a concern, especially when they impact personal data. As a parent, I recently experienced this when my child’s pediatrician was targeted. No one is immune, but an organization’s response is crucial. Openness, honesty, and preparation during an incident builds trust, while carelessness shows a lack of commitment to cybersecurity.” This sentiment highlights the non-monetary impact that incidents have on customers and future business, an item commonly not considered when planning and discussing business risk.

     

      

    Building a Fortress: Protecting Healthcare 

    Healthcare institutions can fortify their defenses through several key measures:

        • Prioritize robust cybersecurity measures: Implementing robust cybersecurity measures, including advanced firewalls, data encryption, and regular system updates, is essential to safeguard sensitive patient information and prevent cyberattacks.

        • Invest in staff training: Educating staff members on cybersecurity best practices, such as recognizing phishing attempts and reporting suspicious activity, can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to cyberattacks.

        • Develop comprehensive incident response plans: Having a well-defined incident response plan in place can ensure a swift and coordinated response in the event of a cyberattack. This plan should outline steps to mitigate the damage, contain the breach, and restore operations as quickly as possible.

      Constant Vigilance is Key

      Healthcare providers must be proactive in safeguarding their systems and data, as cybercrime tactics evolve.

      Here’s how Bridgehead IT can help:

          • Comprehensive Security Solutions: Our approach combines continuous monitoring with data collection to detect and prevent potential cyber attacks.

            • Confidentiality and Expertise: We offer a confidential assessment to identify vulnerabilities and recommend effective security measures.

          Safeguard your healthcare facility from the ever-present threat of cyber attacks. Contact Bridgehead IT today.

          Sources:

              1. Chicago Children’s Hospital Systems Back Online After Cyberattack
              2. Health Industry Struggles To Recover From Cyberattack
              3. Change Healthcare Faces Another Ransomware Threat

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