The healthcare sector accounted for more than half of all cyberattacks in 2017 and it’s often not seen as a critical industry, like power and water, when in actuality it is. It’s probably one of the most technology-reliant industries and does not invest in security the way banks and others do. Unfortunately, when something goes wrong in the healthcare system, be it a cybersecurity threat or other technology threat, it can actually lead to expedited death unlike other industries.

There are numerous steps that need to be taken when a healthcare system acknowledges that they are being hacked. This is called “Incident Management” with the first and most important steps being:

  1. Identify the threat and stop it immediately.
  2. Stop the threat in such a way that the integrity of the process will hold up to legal purposes. In most cases, once a hack is in place it is not a technical problem, but a legal problem.

We’ve been hacked, what’s next?

The immediate goal is to limit damage done by the hack while reducing recovery time and the costs associated with the breach. The damage should initially be determined to understand the depth of the hack: how many records were accessed, which systems were accessed, and how much bandwidth was used. Bandwidth will directly correlate to how much data was actually siphoned.

When a hack has occurred, the next step is to identify an application and follow the process of fixing what has occurred. Then, as with a breach in any industry, the executive management team’s directive is to ensure this doesn’t happen again. What many don’t realize is that this will happen again, however it’s now important to close the door or window that was used to enter. You want to ensure the same hack doesn’t happen again. Cybersecurity is truly a reactive process, it’s not something any industry excels at being proactive about.

What is the solution?

The solution is not technological, it’s human. There are many tech options available and they’re all different, but the human resources to utilize them is lacking. If the tech is in place but is not being monitored by someone, the hack can still happen. Unfortunately, it comes down to a reduction of cost related to the time/hours required for humans to monitor. One of the most important factors is that we need to change the perception that technology is a cost, because it is actually the business itself.

This is especially true when it comes to the healthcare sector. It’s an industry that does not invest enough in the talent needed to monitor IT (information technology) security and have the technological training to proactively combat hacking. Technology is an important tool when it comes to our own physical safety, as are instruments to a doctor, it’s not just a convenience.

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