It’s Not Only CyberSecurity — It’s CyberPrevention
Too often, we just wait. We wait until some bad happens. Then, with bold conviction, we act with certainty.
Cybersecurity is an essential component of modern healthcare. With the increasing reliance on technology in healthcare settings and the home, it is more important than ever to ensure that sensitive patient data and medical systems are protected from cybersecurity threats.
In today’s world, effective cybersecurity is no longer an option, but an imperative. And the risks are both alarming and potentially life-threatening. From stolen healthcare data that can be used to commit identity theft or fraud to the incapacitation of an entire network, the risks are functionally critical. Additionally, hackers could potentially gain access to medical records or even medical devices such as pacemakers or insulin pumps. This could allow them to exploit patients or even cause physical harm. It’s becoming a technology “code blue” for many stakeholders.
But let’s also follow the money. The global healthcare cyber security market size was estimated at USD 12.6 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 14.7 billion this year. And that total has been projected to reach over 30 billion in 2026.
It’s also a very human condition — both healthcare and cybersecurity. It’s human nature for people to wait until something bad happens because we’re hardwired to be reactive, not proactive. From an evolutionary standpoint, it was more advantageous for our ancestors to respond quickly to dangerous situations than to spend time brainstorming possible threats and coming up with preventive measures. In this day and age, however, our fast-paced world often rewards those who take a proactive approach. So, while it may be human nature to wait until something bad happens—sick care versus well care—it’s also important to work on overcoming that natural tendency and proactively protect ourselves from harm.
Accordingly, the cybersecurity of the healthcare system can be directly impacted by the actions of individuals and teams. Simply put, humans can be the weakest link in cybersecurity. This may be due to our natural proclivity for bad habits such as clicking on unknown links, using easy-to-guess passwords, and not keeping our software up-to-date. Hackers prey on these tendencies, often using social engineering tactics to trick people into giving away sensitive information or downloading malware. For example, a hacker might send an email that appears to be from a trusted source but contains a malicious link. Or they might pose as a technician and ask for login information to fix a problem. Further, these risks can be a function of the significant burdens and stress placed on many healthcare workers today.
The emerging role of physician burnout can be directly related to cybersecurity and human error. A recent publication sites this as both a significant concern as well as a difficult problem to address.
Stress, burnout, and security fatigue continue as slight destroyers of strong cybersecurity and significant human factors concerns. The persistence of these human performance issues is concerning given the lack of mitigation and integration of human factors practitioners to mitigate these adverse risk circumstances. Security fatigue is not a new phenomenon but the evolving nature of cybersecurity results in various sub-categories of security fatigue; thus, making it a difficult problem to solve.
It is therefore essential that healthcare organizations take steps to protect their systems from cyberattacks. This includes implementing cybersecurity measures such as firewalls to password protection. Central to these efforts is to educate staff about cybersecurity best practices and to create a culture of cybersecurity awareness. At the core of cybersecurity is to address these issues but also in establishing a leader driven culture of security that proactively develops an engaged relationship among all stakeholders and addresses both the technological and human scenarios that drive risk. It’s essential that CISOs act boldly and with authority to stay ahead of any potential problem.
CISOs must take a leadership role in bringing all the disparate forces together at their organizations. Everyone has seen the news about ransomware and other cyberattacks — and nobody wants to be on TV explaining financial losses, or worse, an injury or death because of a cyberattack.” Joseph Davis, Chief Security Advisor, Microsoft
Interestingly, technology is a powerful force that drives medical innovation — it facilitates innovative technologies from telemedicine to advanced imaging and artificial intelligence. The unencumbered reality of technological innovation and advanced medicine can only exist if highly effective cybersecurity is a partner in the journey. Together, security and innovation drive a duality of innovation that facilitates real transformation.
Given the ever-evolving nature of cybersecurity threats, it is crucial for healthcare providers to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in this field and adapt their cybersecurity strategies accordingly. By prioritizing cybersecurity in their day-to-day operations, healthcare organizations can help ensure the safety and security of their patients and medical systems to optimize clinical care for all.
This post was written in collaboration with Microsoft.