Healthcare Global features an article by Jason Crabtree, QOMPLX CEO and co-founder, ‘The impact on health of cyber attacks.’ The article discusses the risks run by the healthcare sector, and what needs to change to improve cyber safety.
Recent attacks on third-party technology provider Blackbaud have highlighted the vulnerability of healthcare organizations to cyber attack. The Blackbaud hack affected a long list of healthcare organizations that relied on Blackbaud’s services, including Inova Health Systems and Northern Lights Health Foundation
The healthcare sector is a prime target for cyber attacks. There are good reasons for that, Crabtree notes in his article. Healthcare firms manage a plethora of information that can be stolen, including personally identifiable information from their patients, in addition to financial information as intermediaries between physicians, payers, government agencies, and other providers of healthcare services.
“The cyber threat to the healthcare nonprofit sector is comparable to similar threats against financial institutions, utilities and their infrastructure, and the defense industrial base. No one in the age of COVID-19 can deny that healthcare is systemically important to the wellbeing of the people of the United States,” writes Crabtree.
In addition to the loss of information, cyber attacks on healthcare systems can also come with dire physical consequences. In an industry where every second counts, delays caused by cyber attacks can be the literal difference between life and death.
Increasingly, cases of mortality or lasting harm to patients have been tied to cyber attacks. In September, for example, a ransomware attack on a Düsseldorf hospital contributed to the death of a patient who needed acute surgery, prompting the opening of a negligent homicide case by German authorities.
The need for information and operational technology management solutions in hospitals has never been more glaring. As Crabtree writes, “Just like patient care, security is a continuous process of improvement and not a one-time transformation effort.”