Healthcare Industry

The Top 3 Targets of Healthcare Cybersecurity Breaches

September 21, 2022

The Top 3 Targets of Healthcare Cybersecurity Breaches


Healthcare cybersecurity breaches continue to spread at an alarming rate. In fact, in July 2022 alone, 66 healthcare data breaches of 500 or more records were reported to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights—amounting to over 5 million exposed healthcare records in one month.

Healthcare has always been a significant target for cybercriminals, and with good reason: First, the data can be quite valuable, with stolen health credentials often being sold for higher prices than credit card numbers on the black market. Moreover, healthcare increasingly relies on technology to store this ever-increasing data—and the security is often completely inadequate.

Healthcare cybersecurity is unique, however, because malicious actors can target three significant areas, and each one requires a different cybersecurity approach and strategy.

What are these targets? Read on.

1. Your Patients

The great challenge that healthcare systems face is ensuring that health data is readily available to those who must access it, while also guaranteeing that such data remains private.

The ramifications of not safeguarding patient data extend well beyond identity theft. Healthcare cyberattacks can result in paralyzing systems, which can disrupt surgeries, health monitoring, and even life support. For this reason, a robust cyber risk strategy is not only necessary to protect data; it can help save lives.

To effectively protect patients, healthcare organizations must implement vigorous access control and data protection, thus ensuring that patient data remains private but is also available on a need-to-know basis.

2. Your Organization

As with other industries, healthcare cyberattacks can cause reputational damage to organizations and shut down their operations. In addition, the regulatory fallout resulting from healthcare cyberattacks can be devastating. Not complying with regulations such as HIPAA can lead to hefty fines and even potential jail time, depending on the severity and frequency of the violation. In one case, for example, a medical center that lost a flash drive and laptop containing unencrypted PHI was forced to pay a $3 million settlement.

At the same time, healthcare organizations must also keep in mind that FDA approval requires a lengthy certification process, which is intended to safeguard health. Even small changes to health products that require FDA approval can require recertification, which can take years and cost millions. An effective cybersecurity strategy must therefore consider how these regulatory requirements and implications may impact mitigation plans.

3. Your Medical Devices

Medical devices are also a major target of healthcare cyberattacks. In fact, because of escalating healthcare data breaches, GlobalData predicted that cybersecurity spending in the medical device sector will grow from $869 million in 2020 to $1.2 billion in 2025.

As is the case with patient privacy, protecting medical devices from cyberattacks can save lives. For example, a cyber incident that results in having to shut down x-rays, MRIs, and ultrasounds can be a disaster for patients. In addition, halting operations unquestionably has a major negative effect on businesses that rely on such medical devices.

For all of these reasons, a robust cybersecurity strategy for healthcare organizations should be sure to include, among other things:

  • Medical data encryption
  • Security awareness training
  • Access control

How CYE Can Help

Many major healthcare organizations depend on CYE to assess, quantify, and mitigate cyber risk so they can make better security decisions and invest in effective remediation.

CYE considers multiple factors when assessing a healthcare organization’s cyber risk, including the type of attacker, the business assets at risk, the environments, and the true threat of vulnerabilities. Using this data, CYE maps possible attack routes and then recommends which vulnerabilities should be fixed and their costs.

In this way, CYE helps healthcare companies receive full visibility into their true cyber risks, the business assets that are impacted, and the effectiveness of security protection and detection solutions.

Read more about the benefits of cyber risk quantification with CYE.

Want to learn more about how CYE can help protect your healthcare company from cyber threats? Contact us.