Posted by Tyler Chancey, GCFA on

Tyler Chancey is a seasoned cybersecurity professional currently serving as the Director of Cyber Security at Scarlett Cybersecurity Services, With a solid foundation in Computer Software Engineering from the University of Florida, Tyler holds a repertoire of certifications that underscore his expertise. These include the prestigious Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert and Microsoft 365 Certified: Security Administrator Associate, showcasing his mastery in Microsoft's enterprise solutions. Tyler's commitment to comprehensive security is further evidenced by his CompTIA Security+ certification, demonstrating proficiency in core cybersecurity principles. Additionally, his GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst (GCFA) credential attests to his advanced skills in forensic analysis—an invaluable asset in today's complex cybersecurity landscape. Tyler's dedication to staying at the forefront of industry standards is evident in the active pursuit and maintenance of these certifications, making him a trusted authority in the field.

cyberattacks in healthcare

Healthcare is an active target for cyber attacks. These attacks pose serious risks to patient data (PHI) and healthcare organizations, leading to data breaches, system outages, and even loss of life.

These attacks use various approaches, such as ransomware, malware infections, and denial-of-service attacks. They aim to steal protected health information, disrupt healthcare operations, or harm the health system financially.

What are the Major Cyber Threats in the Healthcare Industry?

The healthcare industry is an ideal target for cyber-attacks due to its sensitive and valuable information, including medical records, banking data, and research information. Here are some common cyber-attacks in healthcare:

Ransomware Attacks

Health care organizations experience immense threats from ransomware. In these attacks, cybercriminals lock important data and then ask for a fee to get the access keys. This often interrupts operations and puts patient care at risk. Well-known attacks like WannaCry and NotPetya have shown how harmful ransomware may become for healthcare systems.

Phishing Attacks

People frequently use emails to trick healthcare employees into giving up private information or login credentials. Attackers may pretend to be real organizations, like government health agencies or insurance companies, to get victims to click on harmful links or download infected attachments.

Insider Threats

The insiders, including workers, subcontractors, or companies, can pose significant threats. They could intentionally or unintentionally put sensitive information at risk, resulting from their malicious actions. Insider threats can include data theft, fraud, or the introduction of malware.

IoT Vulnerabilities

The growing application of Internet of Things (IoT) devices in healthcare, including healthcare equipment and wearable devices, creates novel vectors for attack. Hackers can use IoT devices that aren't adequately secure to get into healthcare systems or steal patient information.

Data Breaches

Healthcare institutions store enormous amounts of protected health data, which makes them particularly attractive for cyberattack. These breaches may originate from flaws in network safety, misconfigured networks, or insider measures, resulting in confidential data access.

DoS Attacks

DoS attacks can stop healthcare services because they overwhelm network resources and make systems and websites unavailable. Cybercriminals may use Denial of Service (DoS) tactics to distract from other bad things they are doing or to demand ransoms.

Supply Chain Attacks

Healthcare organizations often get products and services from third-party vendors. These vendors can be attacked by hackers who breach a vendor's systems to get into a healthcare group's network.

Lack of security patches

Healthcare organizations can be vulnerable to known exploits if they don't quickly apply updates and security patches to their systems and software. Cybercriminals continually search for vulnerabilities that need fixing to get into networks.


Why Healthcare is a Leading Target for Cybercriminals?

Healthcare is one of the most intended sectors for cyber threat actors. This focus on healthcare by cybercriminals could be caused by various factors, such as:

Valuable Data

Healthcare facilities retain essential information, such as patient data, financial details, and medical histories. This information is both confidential and valuable on the black market. Cybercriminals can use it to obtain the identities of individuals, scam insurance companies, or sell it on the dark web.

Outdated Systems

The majority of healthcare providers remain dependent on outdated computer systems and applications. Older technologies frequently need powerful security features and are more susceptible to attack. This makes them accessible for attackers looking for ways to exploit weaknesses.

Patient Safety

The safety of patients can be directly affected by attacks on healthcare systems. If cybercriminals acquire unauthorized access to medical data or disrupt essential healthcare systems, it could trigger incorrect diagnoses, treatment errors, or patient treatment delays.


In the healthcare industry, ransomware attacks appear frequently. Attackers encode the information of an organization's system and demand a ransom for its recovery. Healthcare providers may be inclined to pay the ransom because they are often pressured to get services back up and running quickly to save lives.

Limited Resources

Several healthcare institutions have limited funding for cybersecurity. They could value patient care over their IT systems' security, making them susceptible to attacks. Cybercriminals are aware of these limitations and use them to their advantage.

Human Error

Healthcare workers, like other professions, are susceptible to mistakes. Cybercriminals often use phishing attacks and social engineering to get healthcare workers to give out confidential data or download malware.

Connected Devices

The growing number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices for health care, including medical supplies, wearable devices, and remote monitoring devices, increases the potential for attack. These gadgets often have security vulnerabilities that allow someone to do malicious acts.

Regulatory Compliance

In the United States, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) says that healthcare organizations must strictly protect personal information. Cyberattacks can lead to fines from the government, legal issues, and damage to a healthcare organization's reputation.

Nation-State Actors

The government does some hacks on healthcare organizations to steal important medical research, obtain financial advantages, or harm healthcare systems in times of crisis.

Profit Motive

Cybercriminals are becoming more motivated by monetary rewards. They think the healthcare industry is a good place to make money, making it a prime target for ransomware attacks and data breaches.

Lack of Awareness

Many people who work in healthcare may need more training in malicious activity. This makes them more likely to fall for phishing and other social engineering tricks.

Lack of Cybersecurity Measures

In previous years, numerous healthcare organizations invested fewer resources into security than other industries. This makes them interesting to attackers because they believe it will be easy to get into the system.

Limited IT Resources

Many medical organizations, especially smaller ones, need more IT knowledge and resources. They might need security professionals on board or the latest protection measures, which makes them easier to target.

Black Market for Healthcare Data

Healthcare information is very valuable on the black market. Stolen patient information can be used for identity theft, insurance fraud, prescription drug scams, and other illegal activities.

Opportunistic Attacks

The COVID-19 outbreak opened up new possibilities for hackers. They used phishing scams, fake sites for vaccine registration, and other tricks to exploit individuals' fear and confusion about the pandemic.

Monetary Gain

Cybercriminals want to make money, and healthcare companies are easy and profitable targets. They can use ransomware to get money, sell stolen data, or employ systems attacked for other attacks meant to make money.


How to Mitigate Cyber Attacks in the Healthcare Industry

Protecting the critical infrastructure of the medical sector against cyber attacks is essential. Confidential individual health information, patient records, and the basic function of healthcare systems can suffer from disruption. Here are some key ways to improve cyber-safety in the healthcare industry:

Employee Training and Awareness

Teach healthcare employees about cybersecurity and their roles in protecting patient data. Give regular training on spotting schemes, social engineering, and best practices for managing credentials.

Strong Access Control

Set up strict access rules and strong user authentication methods to ensure only the individuals can see patient information. Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) to improve the protection of user accounts.

Regular Software Updates and Patch Management

Ensure all software, including operating systems and medical devices, has the latest security patches. Set up a method for managing patches to ensure updates happen on time and don't interfere with patient care.

Intrusion detection systems and firewalls

Install firewalls and intruder detection systems to monitor network data and discover items that do not appear correct. Set up filters to stop ports and services that aren't needed.

Data Encryption

Encrypt private medical data both while it is being sent and while it is being stored to keep it safe from unauthorized access. Use strong encryption techniques and good methods for managing keys.

Backup and Disaster Recovery

Important data and systems should be backed up regularly and safely stored offline or on a separate network. Create a full disaster recovery plan to quickly restore service after an attack.

Vendor Risk Management

Assess and monitor the security practices of third-party sellers, especially those that make medical software or gadgets. Make sure suppliers follow security guidelines and the terms of their contracts.

Incident Response Plan

Make an incident reaction plan that explains what to do in case of a hack and keep it up to date. Do tabletop tasks to test how well the program will work.

Regular Security Audits and Penetration Testing

Do regular security checks and risk reviews to determine where the infrastructure is weak. Perform penetration testing to simulate cyberattacks and find vulnerabilities.

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) Systems

Install SIEM systems so that security logs and events from across the company can be analyzed in one place. Use powerful analytics to find suspicious behaviors and stop them in real time.

Regulatory Compliance

If applicable, Ensure you comply with healthcare-specific standards like HIPAA and GDPR. Check and report on compliance attempts regularly.

Cyber-Awareness Culture

Encourage everyone in the company to be aware of and responsible for safety. Encourage people to report possible security problems without worrying about getting in trouble.

External Threat Intelligence

By subscribing to threat intelligence services, you can stay updated on the latest online threats that affect the healthcare business.

Secure IoT and Medical Devices

Implement safety measures for Internet of Things (IoT) devices and healthcare equipment to avoid unauthorized access and possible exploitation.


Real-Life Hypothetical scenario

Mercy General Hospital, known for innovative medical tech and excellent care, suddenly had its electronic health records locked by hackers demanding a ransom. The attackers also launched a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, crashing the hospital's website and crippling online communications. With no access to patient data, doctors and nurses struggled using paper records as IT teams scrambled to regain control. Emergency procedures were delayed, putting patient safety at risk.

As the crippling attack persisted for days, the hospital ultimately decided to pay the ransom to recover its systems, though suffering damaged reputation and public trust. Law enforcement traced the culprits to a shadowy criminal group operating remotely. The incident highlighted how catastrophically cyberattacks can impact healthcare operations and prompted new prevention and recovery protocols at the facility.

Why Outsource Cybersecurity Services?

Outsourcing cybersecurity to specialized providers allows healthcare organizations to leverage expertise, state-of-the-art tools, and 24/7 monitoring against evolving cyber threats. 

Managed service security providers offer extensive experience, ensure regulatory compliance, and provide rapid incident response - often more cost-effectively than building in-house capabilities.

By partnering with cybersecurity experts for Healthcare Cybersecurity Solutions, health providers can focus on caring for patients while their critical systems and data remain robustly protected.

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