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Ransomware Strikes Healthcare: The Urgent Need for Robust Defense to Protect Sensitive Patient Data

In recent years, the healthcare industry has become an increasingly attractive target for malicious cyberattacks, with ransomware emerging as a particularly menacing threat. These attacks involve encrypting sensitive patient data and holding it hostage until a ransom is paid, wreaking havoc on healthcare organizations worldwide. The consequences of such attacks are far-reaching, ranging from disrupted operations and compromised patient care to reputational damage and substantial financial losses. Thus, the imperative for healthcare providers to establish a robust defense against ransomware has never been more critical.

Tyler Young, BigID CISO

We sat down with Tyler Young, CISO, BigID, to discuss the state of healthcare and ransomware attacks, as well as attack mitigation strategies. What is the current state of healthcare in relation to ransomware attacks and data breaches?

While healthcare organizations have shown gradual improvement in data threat detection and breach response, sensitive patient data like protected health information (PHI) remains the most targeted, valued, and frequently stolen by hackers.

Why do healthcare companies experience a higher impact from data breaches compared to other industries? What are their challenges?

Healthcare will always be top of mind for Cyber Criminals, mainly because of the criticality of the work healthcare companies are involved in. Hospitals and medical devices need to be up and running 100% of the time without any disruptions, which makes them a prime target because Cyber Criminals know they will pay the ransom, as it's a matter of life or death in some situations.

Key Challenges healthcare organizations face is they are often operating in a hub and spoke model.

Centralized data centers (hubs) that allow for connectivity to external offices, research centers, etc. coupled with a significant amount of workers with different priorities and access requirements.

What strategies or measures can healthcare companies implement to reduce the risk of ransomware attacks? Healthcare organizations need to focus on educating employees, decentralizing their networks, and focusing on patching systems. This is not just healthcare related, all companies in every vertical need to put their attention on this.

How do you foresee healthcare security evolving in the near future? What should security leaders in healthcare be focusing on to stay ahead of the threats?

Security leaders in healthcare need to continue driving to their boards that they need to modernize the environments and have budgets to build world class security teams & technologies. Healthcare should not be cutting corners on funding their security programs even if it's seen as a cost to their operations.


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