When data is stolen from a bank, it quickly becomes useless once the breach is discovered and passwords are changed. However, data from the healthcare industry, which includes both personal identities and medical histories, can live and affect people for a lifetime.
Cyberattacks will cost society more than $305 Billion over the next five years. According to industry consultancy, Accenture, 1 in 13 patients will have their data compromised as a result.
The healthcare sector is uniquely vulnerable to privacy breaches. Recent government regulations have required healthcare providers to adopt electronic health records (EHR) under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This has the potential to expose patient data to potential compromise unless providers make equal investments in the security of the systems used to house and manage that data. To comply with legal requirements, healthcare organizations often store detailed medical information for many years. The probability of a breach and the potential severity of the consequences increases according to the amount of data store and the length of time it is stored.
To a hacker, healthcare records contain valuable information, including Social Security numbers, home addresses, and patient histories. Criminals can sell this data for a premium on the black market, providing incentive to focus attacks on the healthcare industry.
With the push toward integrated care, medical data is being shared with many different entities whose employees may have access to patient records. This extended access to medical records also increases the potential for privacy breaches.
In summary, as companies move to digital record-keeping, the industry is so focused on regulatory compliance, that cybersecurity has largely been a secondary thought. Companies with legacy systems are trying to connect to and integrate EHRs. Security is not always considered an integral part of that, and patching systems are always filled with issues.