The Biggest Cybersecurity Concerns Facing Canada’s Healthcare Systems

Founder & CEO at Dynamix Solutions

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Healthcare is often one of the most targeted industries in cyberattacks. Medical facilities have a lot of personal data on patients and many critical systems that rely on their technology infrastructure being up and running. 

When it comes to cybersecurity challenges in healthcare, Canada has seen some of the most significant spikes in ransomware attacks, with an increase of over 250% during the last two months of 2020.

An attack can devastate a healthcare facility that doesn’t have adequate network security. Not only can downtime of IT processes be life-threatening, data breaches can mean millions of dollars in data privacy compliance penalties.

What Are the Challenges Facing Cybersecurity in Healthcare?

Cybersecurity for hospitals and healthcare facilities can be a challenge to keep up with. These organizations often face more regulation than other industries. And due to the nature of their work, can’t be without access to their data (such as patient records) without significant disruption.

Just a few of the challenges that healthcare facilities in Canada must overcome to ensure that their systems are properly protected include the following.

Ransomware & Malware Attacks

Hospitals are often in the news when a ransomware attack is mentioned. This is because attackers know that of all industries, healthcare is particularly reliant in a critical way on maintaining access to data.

It’s not unusual for a healthcare facility to pay the ransom to a ransomware attacker even if it has a backup of its data to try to get operations up and running as fast as possible. 

Growing Black Market for Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

When searching “cybersecurity measures healthcare Canada,” you’ll find that many data breaches are focused on stealing personal information that hospitals have in their databases on patients and employees.

The black market for stolen data is growing. Criminals can make instant cash selling large databases of stolen information like credit card numbers, Social Insurance Numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and more).

Vulnerabilities in IoT Devices

When it comes to cybersecurity, healthcare companies often have more endpoints than other industries that are not traditional computers or mobile devices. Healthcare facilities have multiple patient monitors and other types of medical equipment that are connected to the internet.

These IoT devices can have security flaws that leave networks vulnerable to attack. For example, it was found earlier this year that nearly 4,000 medical devices made by a wide range of vendors were running software with a known vulnerability. 

Canada’s Growth in Healthcare Cybersecurity

The cybersecurity challenges in healthcare Canada has seen are on the radar of government agencies and private healthcare groups alike. The disruption of the pandemic has caused healthcare industry professionals to rethink the way data is handled and how things are done, which has bought about some growth in this area.

  • Move to Cloud Environments: Cloud environments can often offer more security than on-premises assets. The pandemic has driven a significant move for healthcare processes and data to the cloud.
  • Streamlining the Patient Journey: Through increased efforts to streamline the patient journey comes the use of AI and automation. These technologies also improve healthcare cybersecurity.
  • Sharing of Best Practices: With the “we’re all in this together” comradery in the healthcare industry brought about by the pandemic, there has been more sharing of information and best practices, which improves IT security for everyone.

Strategies and Measures in Place at Canadian Healthcare Facilities to Promote Cybersecurity

Healthcare cybersecurity regulations and the need to stay operational and avoid a devastating cyberattack have Canadian healthcare facilities taking measures to promote good cyber hygiene.

Some of the positive steps that leaders are taking to promote cybersecurity for hospitals and healthcare facilities are as follows.

Vulnerability Assessment & Penetration Testing

Regular assessment and testing of network IT security helps ensure systems are kept up to date and able to evolve along with the tactics of cybercriminals.

Vendor Risk Management

All 3rd party devices and cloud services that are used should be held to the same high standard when it comes to data protection. Vendor risk management is about evaluating the security practices of each company that may have a part in a healthcare facility’s overall IT security.

Medical Device Security

Organizations are now understanding that they need to treat IoT medical devices just like they do servers and computers when it comes to cybersecurity.

Use of a Cybersecurity Framework

Using a standardized framework for cybersecurity helps to ensure that no areas of protection are left unaddressed, and also improves compliance with data privacy regulations.

Using HIPAA Security, Privacy, and Breach Notification Rules, HITRUST CSF, NIST CSF, ISO 27001/2 and other standards can significantly reduce the risk of a breach by providing a solid foundation for data security.

How Secure is Your Healthcare Facility’s Network?

All it takes is a breach of one device to take your entire network down. Dynamix Solutions can provide a cybersecurity assessment for your Toronto or Calgary healthcare facility so you know where you stand.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation! Call Toll Free: 1 (855) 405-1087.

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