Hackers Want Your Health Data: How Safe Is Your Info?

FRESNO, California – Cody Sarhan, Communications Specialist

In February of this year, a unit of UnitedHealth Group, known as Change Healthcare issued a statement saying that several of its services were offline and unavailable due to a cybersecurity issue. This issue rapidly spiraled into a major crisis, as Change Healthcare’s core operation is ensuring the smooth flow of 14 billion transactions annually. With sensitive information like managing payments, handling requests for insurer authorizations, and a variety of other essential services on the line, you can see where the major concern lies.

Learn more: How Xobee can better protect you from data breaches

This isn’t the only cyberattack to hit a major healthcare institution as of late, and it certainly won’t be the last. Well-resourced healthcare institutions are vulnerable to cyber threats, but smaller and underfunded institutions are particularly at risk. These incidents are a clarion call for clinics not yet hit, because unless robust cybersecurity measures are put into place, it’s only a matter of time before your institution is spiraling through its own crisis.

“This isn’t just about money or data loss. In healthcare, cyberattacks can endanger human lives.” — Geetha Thamilarasu

Why Healthcare Is Becoming A Major Target

Healthcare facilities are increasingly targeted by cybercriminals due to the sensitive nature of the data they hold. Medical records, financial information, Social Security numbers, and other personal details are gold mines for hackers. As Geetha Thamilarasu, an associate professor specializing in healthcare security at the University of Washington, Bothell, explains, “Research shows that if a compromised credit card sells for about $1 to $5 each, a compromised medical record can sell anywhere from $400 to $500 — sometimes even $1,000.”

You can start to see how a database with thousands upon thousands of records stacks up.

These attacks are not just hypothetical. In 2023 alone, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported breaches affecting over 88 million individuals — with a 93% increase in large, healthcare-related breaches reported between 2018-2022. The consequences of such breaches are severe, leading to delayed medical procedures, rerouted emergency services, and immense financial losses.

Anatomy of a Cyberattack

Most cyberattacks begin with a seemingly innocuous email. A healthcare employee might receive an email from what appears to be a trusted source, but with a slight misspelling in the sender’s name — a classic phishing attempt. By clicking on a malicious link, the employee unwittingly grants the attacker access to the entire network.

Chris Callahan, Chief of Cybersecurity for the Northwest region of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), emphasizes that “the biggest risk sector is employees,” and without adequate defenses and user education, healthcare systems remain highly vulnerable.

The impact of cyberattacks on healthcare goes beyond financial losses and data breaches. They pose a direct threat to patient safety. Last year, a cyberattack on Ardent Health Services forced hospitals to divert ambulances and reschedule non-urgent surgeries.

Xobee Networks: Your Partner in Cybersecurity

Healthcare institutions need a reliable partner and specialist who can help build a more robust and defensible position against these growing cyber threats. Xobee Networks offers comprehensive IT consulting, advanced cybersecurity, cloud hosting solutions, backup redundancies, and disaster recovery services. Our cybersecurity offerings include virus protection, spam filtering, and more.

Patient care goes beyond healthcare. Protect your healthcare organization with Xobee Networks’ robust cybersecurity solutions. Ensure your patients’ safety and data integrity with our expert services. Contact us today to learn more.

Xobee now has engineers servicing clients within Fresno, Clovis, Madera, San Jose, Sacramento, San Francisco & the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Las Vegas, Bakersfield, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Anaheim, Palm Springs, and more.

Cody Sarhan | Communications Specialist, Xobee Networks

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