5 Ways That Healthcare is at Massive Risk from Cyber Attacks

January 13 2021

If there is one industry that is at massive risk from cyber-attacks, it is healthcare. A cyber-attack on any healthcare system or provider would threaten their day-to-day work and compromise extremely sensitive and confidential patient data. Healthcare staff often have busy days and work long hours, meaning they don’t have the resources or time to stay aware when it comes to online risks.

The #WannaCry ransomware attack against NHS systems in 2017 is a stark reminder of how vulnerable healthcare is to cyber-attacks. New threats are uncovered every day which means it is difficult for healthcare providers to know where to invest to combat cyber-attacks. The coronavirus global pandemic has not helped matters, with an even higher demand for patient data and information kept ton often outdated systems is a recipe for disaster when it comes to protecting healthcare from cyber-attacks.

Here are 5 key reasons why healthcare is at massive risk from cyber-attacks:

Private and confidential data and information is very valuable to hackers

Hospitals store a huge amount of their patient’s data, and with much of this data being sensitive and confidential, it can be worth a lot of money to hackers as they can often sell it on easily. This makes the healthcare industry a growing target for cyber criminals. Healthcare organisations have a duty of care to protect their patient records and data, and with financial penalties for a data breach eye wateringly high healthcare organisations need to protect their data as much as possible, especially since they may already be financially stretched.

Securing confidential data with solutions such as multi-factor authentication costs far less than having to pay out due to ransomware or similar attacks. This solution makes it much harder for hackers to steal passwords and other sensitive information.

Medical devices can be an easy entry point

Medical devices such as x-ray machines, insulin pumps and defibrillators all play a huge role in modern healthcare, but these devices can provide entry points for hackers to gain entry. While these devices are designed for a sole purpose such as to monitor heart rates or deliver insulin, they are often not made with security in mind.

The devices themselves may not actually store patient data, but they can be used to launch an attack on a server that does hold valuable information. Hackers often know that these devices don’t contain any patient data, but they do know that they are an easy target to getting to that data.

Accessing data remotely, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, provides more opportunities for attacks

The ability to work collaboratively is crucial in the healthcare industry with different units working together to provide the best outcomes for every patient. Sometimes those who need to access information aren’t always at their desks and often work remotely from other devices. This has been especially true this year during the coronavirus pandemic.

Connecting to a network remotely from any device is risky, as not all devices will be secure. In addition, there is the challenge of bring your own device (BYOD). And with healthcare staff often not having received cyber security awareness training this provides a further weak link for hackers to gain access to confidential data.

Just one hacked device can leave a whole healthcare organisation wide open to a cyber-attack, so one option for organisations that have staff working across multiple devices is risk-based authentication (RBA). This can make risk analysis simpler by letting IT staff set up device policies and determine the level of risk of a given device based on factors such as the location, the user and more. Any strange activity is then flagged to ensure that sensitive patient data is never exposed via unsafe devices.

Healthcare staff don’t want disruption to their working practises

With healthcare staff being some of the busiest and most in-demand, they just don’t have the time or resources to add cyber security processes to their workload. They need slick working practises with minimal steps and minimal disruptions.

Therefore, any cybersecurity measures pleased on healthcare organisations need to consider the impact they may have. IT staff should try to align their security measures with existing software and find authentication solutions that work seamlessly with other software, so that medical staff can perform their tasks without much disruption. Single sign-on (SSO) solutions can help to keep their work routines simple and quick, which is exactly what they need.

Healthcare staff often don’t receive cyber security awareness training

Medical professionals are trained to deal with many things, but cyber security awareness training is often not part of their schedule or something they consider to be important. Medical personnel require a secure network that is quick and easy to access, while also having the peace of mind of knowing that patient data is fully protected so they can focus solely on their jobs.

It is important that medical professionals allocate time to cyber security awareness training, and that solutions such as MFA and SSO are implemented as they simple use a secure one-time use code, which adds extra security layers without being overly complicated.


To improve cybersecurity in healthcare, organisations need to ensure that not only is their data well protected, but also that their staff are fully trained against the growing cyber threat. At CyBourn, we can deliver both giving you full peace of mind when it comes to your cybersecurity posture.

To find out more, talk to us today.

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