What Are The Biggest Cybersecurity Threats To My Healthcare Practice

September 5, 2018 0 News & Blogs


Cybersecurity is of critical importance for your healthcare practice. Unlike other businesses dealing solely with financial information of clients, you also store Social Security numbers, medical histories, and insurance data. This makes hacking a healthcare practice a potential goldmine for cyber criminals. These criminals steal and then sell this information on the black market.

According to the FBI, two million health care records were stolen in 2013, resulting in net black market sales of around $100 million. Healthcare records draw 50 times as much as a credit card or Social Security number. Therefore, it is important to know what the biggest cybersecurity threats to your healthcare practice are and what you can do about them.

Targeted Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks occur when cyber criminals go after specific organizations; in this case, a healthcare facility. The criminal purchases a domain with an alteration to a respected website. He then sends out emails designed to look like the authentic messages sent by the correct website. These emails contain malware, ransomware or simply request patient information. Because these messages often look flawless and, to the untrained eye, appear authentic, recipients are tricked into clicking on and responding to them.


Ransomware is a form of malware that infiltrates a network and often installs a virus on it a few bits of data at a time, which makes it difficult to trace or flag. Once installed and launched, it takes over the entire network, locking you out and preventing you from accessing the network. The ransomware then requests that you transfer a payment in exchange for a code to type in and remove the ransomware. During 2017, ransomware through emails accounted for 31 to 59 percent of all distribution. Website attachments were responsible for 24 percent, while nine percent of all ransomware distribution originations from unknown sources. You cannot forget to scan outside hardware, as four percent comes from USB devices.

Malware Delivered Over SSL

Short for “standard security protocols,” this is an initial level of encryption used between web servers and browsers. Malware can easily bypass this though, as 33 percent of malware now uses encryption. This makes the need for visibility into SSL that much more important.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

Chances are you bring your own smartphone to the office. Your employees may bring their own laptops and tablets. Perhaps you issued this equipment to them and they take this hardware home occasionally. The problem with this is that 46 percent of organizations like your own have no security measures implemented on mobile devices. Meanwhile 66 percent of health apps send critical information over the Internet without the use of encryption. This makes BYODs a cybersecurity threat.

Employee Negligence

One of the biggest problems with regards to your healthcare office’s internal security is employee negligence. They may open an email infected with malware or open virus-filled messages on social media. You can prevent this kind of an issue from happening by educating your staff on the importance of:

  • Remaining vigilant while using the internet.
  • Refraining from personal Internet usage.
  • Only opening emails from trusted sources.

Educating your staff can reduce potential attacks from 70 percent down to 45 percent.

Cloud Threats

There are very strict rules and regulations in place by HIPAA to help prevent the unnecessary exposure of client information over the cloud. Due to this, there should never be any unrestricted or unnecessary access to cloud-based data when storing information on a cloud network. Using the cloud does bring with it additional security issues, which is why implementing strong encryption helps protect data while transferred from one hospital workstation to another. Using tokenized encryption can help in protecting the information. By using adequate encryption protocols, it makes the data worthless to potential cyber criminals.


Just like in the healthcare industry, in the world of Internet security it’s always to exercise preventative measures to stop potential problems. If your healthcare office has not yet been affected by security breaches you are part of the minority. According to the Ponemon Institute, 63 percent of all healthcare organizations reported at least one data breach over the previous two years. For the safety and security of not only your practice but that of your patients, you need to partner with a dedicated cybersecurity consultant.

CompassMSP provides not only personalized consultations but also offers in-house recommendations to prevent cyberattacks on your entire network. If you have yet to implement the latest in protective measures for your practice, now is the time to do it.

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