Health IT: Can You Stay Connected and Avoid Security Risks?

Every year, various advancements in technology make their way into the healthcare industry. From the Internet of Things [IoT] to telemedicine, all of these innovations are changing the way medical institutions deliver care across the world. While many significant benefits come from these modern healthcare innovations, staying connected at all times exponentially increases the threat of cyberattacks and criminal activity being waged against an increasing variety of healthcare institutions.

Common Cyber Threats in the Healthcare Industry

Is your network security program being put at risk by many connected devices and services in your current environment? Two of the biggest common cyber threats for a healthcare data breach include:


Patient records and employee information are some of the most sensitive information held by companies in the healthcare vertical – and bad actors know this. As a result, a common form of cyber terrorism is holding a healthcare institutions information hostage and demanding payment for its return, similar to a ransom. This type of threat (malware) often infiltrates an organization’s network  through phishing emails sent to employees. In 2019 alone, a recent study indicated that 92% of all malware attacks originate from an email, and can lead to a data breach or a data leak. Another study showed that 91% of successful cyber attacks occur from phishing, making email security a focus in every healthcare organization.

Intercepting Information

Another common cyber attack associated with connectivity is bad actors intercepting both incoming and outgoing information from the organization. Gathering and inspecting information in this manner allows them to gather crucial and potentially sensitive information, which can put your company at considerable risk. Even if the data interception isn’t immediately malicious or impactful, it may take advantage of insecure cryptography and open networks, which can still cause a threat to network security and result in a cyberattack at a later time. Implementation of secure communication protocols within your healthcare network are often overlooked and should be implemented any time sensitive information is being sent or received, not just from an external source.

Counter Measures Can Help Protect Your Healthcare Organization Data

Yes, cyber security often feels like a daunting task for IT professionals in the IT industry. However, there are multiple ways that a company can actively (and effectively) combat these threats. Since healthcare information technology and security professionals are mandated to keep sensitive information about patients and other employees safe, it takes focus and discipline to eliminate cyber threats.

For many healthcare IT departments, they focus on encrypting data that comes into and goes out of the organization as an essential first step in data loss prevention. A major concern for any IT department is encrypting the data that will be leaving a secure network and making its way to an unsecured network. This encryption of data during its transit makes it secure, so even if hackers do get their hands on this information, it is of no use to them. The same focus and discipline should be used when looking at data being transmitted through the internal network.  Implement controls where reasonable to ensure that sensitive data is protected from interception internally through measures like wireless sniffing or someone hijacking an open port in an organization. Additionally, other cybersecurity measures, such as using firewalls, multifactor authentication, and network segmentation can all reduce risks associated to connectivity and promote network security.

Are Your Employees Putting Your Network Security At Risk?

Unfortunately, no matter how many technical network security controls your healthcare organization implements, these can only take a company so far in terms of protecting you from connectivity based threats. Truly protecting the organization’s data requires full participation from your entire staff as bad actors can still make their way into an organization with a mature security program through the actions of a single employee. Beyond leveraging customized, integrated network security technical controls, it’s crucial to also go through the process of educating personnel about safety precautions to ensure they remain always mindful of the risk of data loss.  Want to learn more about preserving connectivity while proactively preventing a data breach? Contact Fortified Health Security today.