Article

Daniel Durandt
Daniel Durandt 1 March 2016

Why Healthcare Needs To Care About Cybersecurity

A hospital recently had to deal with a situation almost no one could’ve predicted: They were held to ransom by hackers. As TimesLIVE reports, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center “paid hackers a ransom of $17000 in bitcoins to regain control of its computer systems after a cyber attack.”

Hackers prevented the hospital staff from accessing important patient information and records. This severely hampered care. TimesLIVE notes:

“Allen Stefanek, president of Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Centre, said paying the ransom was the ‘quickest and most efficient way’ of regaining access to the affected systems, which were crippled on February 5 and interfered with the hospital staff’s ability to communicate electronically.”

If a hospital in a country like America can be attacked, everyone else should be concerned. Grayson Milbourne, security intelligence director at Webroot, a cybersecurity company, told IBTimes: “Hospitals are a veritable bullseye for hackers.” The reason hospitals make for a prime target is due to hospitals being run on a tight budget. IT infrastructure becomes a low priority, when they are more concerned about new medical devices and paying staff.

Further, Milbourne explains to IBTimes:

“Medical devices run on a wide variety of operating systems — making patch management and security updates more challenging. This type of landscape can cause the perfect cybersecurity storm.”

Hospitals have to begin taking cybersecurity seriously. Hackers are an ongoing concern for every company and healthcare operators are no different. After all, security is currently a concern for hospitals. They already have cameras, security guards and video wall systems. Considering that the next focus for all security has been digital, it makes sense that hospitals follow suit. If they have data that is digital, that means their security needs to focus on this area too.

As the world becomes more digital, we can’t afford to be lazy in our response. Just as having doors means having locks, so we should approach our data in the same way.

Hackers preventing hospital staff from accessing patient data severely impacts staff’s ability to aid patients. Communication is essential to healthcare, as various doctors need to talk to other departments. It is hardly ever the case that a patient’s care is the responsibility of one department.

While no one wants hackers interfering, it is - at this stage - inevitable. All we can do is better prepare, regardless of whether we’re a digital company or hospital.

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