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Cyberattacks on health systems expected to triple in 2021

por John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | November 20, 2020
Cyber Security Health IT
Seventy-three percent of healthcare organizations are not prepared to combat cybersecurity threats
Seventy-three percent of providers do not have the infrastructure needed to combat cybersecurity threats.

Black Book Market Research predicted in its 2020 State of the Healthcare Cybersecurity Industry study that attacks would triple in 2021, and that an estimated 1500 healthcare providers are vulnerable to data breaches of 500 or more records. One reason is a shortage of cybersecurity professionals.

"The talent shortage for cybersecurity experts with healthcare expertise is nearing a very perilous position," said Brian Locastro, lead researcher of the study, in a statement.

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Surveying 2,464 security personnel, Black Book Market Research found only 14% of hospitals believe a 2021 assessment of their cybersecurity will show improvement from 2020, while 26% believe their cybersecurity has worsened. Forty percent of all clinical hospital employees receive little or no training on cybersecurity awareness, as of 2020, beyond log-in access, and filling cybersecurity roles in health systems takes 70% longer than other IT jobs.

These issues stem from in-house IT management personnel not being aware of the variety of cybersecurity solutions, and hospitals not spending enough on protecting patient records. Ninety percent of health systems and hospital employees working from home during the pandemic have also not received updated guidelines on the increased risk of accessing sensitive patient data. To solve this, 59% of health system CIOs plan to shift security strategies to address user authentication and access, and 219 C-suite respondents plan to increase their health system budget for cybersecurity consulting.

"The key place to start when choosing a cybersecurity services vendor is to understand your threat landscape, understanding the type of services vendors offer, and comparing that to your organization's risk framework to select your best-suited vendor," said Locastro.

If not addressed, these issues could cause patient distrust, with 93% saying they would leave their provider if their privacy was compromised in a preventable attack, in a poll of 3,500 healthcare consumers.

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