In 2017, the three largest most publicized ransomware outbreaks were all reported within the healthcare industry. With ransomware still dominating the world of cybercrime, healthcare continues to be a particularly attractive target for hackers. The valuable data housed on these networks are ripe for financial gain on the dark web. The resulting breaches of protected health information (PHI)  pose large-scale lawsuits, new compliance mandates, public-facing ethical dilemmas and disruption of patient care.

According to the Healthcare Industry Cybersecurity Task Force (est. 2016 by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services), both large and small healthcare organizations struggle with numerous unsupported legacy systems that cannot easily be replaced (i.e. hardware, software and operating systems), exposing vulnerabilities for hackers to exploit and few modern countermeasures.

Further exacerbating the issue, many providers and staff often assume that the IT network and the devices they support function efficiently and that their level of cybersecurity risk is low. Poor security hygiene in healthcare, partnered with intricate and often outdated systems, lead to the success of ransomware and other cyber attacks.   

How ransomware works — This type of malware is downloaded onto systems when unwitting users visit compromised websites, click malicious links or download/click links in a phishing email. Once your network is infected, it prevents or limits users from accessing their system by locking user screens or files until ransom is paid to the hacker.

How ransomware hurts — In addition to the monetary loss, the aftermath of data collected leads to fraud, identity theft, stolen research and development, stock manipulation and worse yet, risks patient care and well-being.

An affordable and effective countermeasure to mitigate risk, protect PHI and comply with HIPAA mandates is to prioritize cybersecurity with a security awareness training program for all employees and clinicians. Once your staff gains a holistic view of the cybersecurity risks associated with healthcare and the potential consequences of breach they can become security leaders, actively protecting patients’ valuable personal data. Implementing an awareness program will require culture shifts to and from leadership, as well as comprehensive, industry-specific training to address security awareness obstacles in healthcare and change the way providers perform their duties in the clinical environment.

Getting Started: How to Engage Busy Healthcare Staff in a Security Awareness Program

Medical workers are no strangers to continuing education, but how do you get them to care about cybersecurity and take proactive steps to protect patient information and institutional data?  

SecurityIQ helps by creating dynamic and relatable training content, designed specifically for healthcare staff. Personalize your program to engage your learners with relevant content that captures their interest. Training courses specific to their role and daily responsibilities are an effective way to move the needle toward awareness best practices.

SecurityIQ healthcare training resources teach learners to:

  • Accurately identify different types of protected health information as defined in HIPAA
  • Prevent accidental disclosure of PHI to unauthorized individuals
  • Follow internal policies and procedures related to protecting privacy and security of health records
  • Identify and avoid common social engineering attacks aimed at stealing protected health information
  • Properly report data breaches as outlined in HIPAA/HITECH requirements
  • Recognize the importance of compliance with federal regulations related to patient privacy
  • Recognize unique challenges healthcare are presented with when dealing with sensitive data

Start Your Program With SecurityIQ — 30+ Interactive Healthcare Modules Available!

Check out this sampling:

Malware Modules

Network Security

Protected Health Information (PHI) & Compliance

Establishing a baseline with a free phishing diagnostic test from SecurityIQ is a great way to evaluate your team’s phishing susceptibility and kick-off your awareness program. Once you know who’s vulnerable, you can enroll them in training using any of the 300+ interactive training modules — including 30+ tailored to healthcare employees! Learn more.