The barrage of cyber attacks against healthcare organizations, including network security compromise and data breaches, force IT departments across the globe to continuously adjust their lines of defense.

The increasing complexity and sophistication of cybercriminal activities mean healthcare organizations must remain vigilant against a broad scope of possible cyber attacks. However, hackers do tend to play favorites based on the ease in which they can either launch an attack or infiltrate a system.

Here are five of the most significant cybersecurity threats to your healthcare system – and how to prevent them.


Ransomware is a major issue for healthcare organizations, as well as companies in virtually every industry. As its name implies, this type of malware encrypts a company’s systems and files, rendering them completely inaccessible until the company pays a ransom.

Ransomware can cause significant disruption throughout the organization, causing potential inoperability across multiple departments.  

Like all malware, ransomware is continuously evolving, making it difficult to prevent a network security breach effectively. However, there are some measures an IT department can take:

  • Running an analysis of existing vulnerabilities and filtering both web and email traffic
  • Install anti-malware
  • Have a recovery process in place

Unsecured Mobile Devices

In today’s connected medical landscape, the rising surge of mobile connectivity continues to pose a significant threat to healthcare security systems of every size and scope. Employees granted access to mobile devices instantly alter the internal operational terrain of the facility, allowing personnel to conduct business as usual from pretty much anywhere.

However, this increase in mobile access to a facility’s internal systems also increases its susceptibility to a cyber attack. It’s not just employees utilizing mobile devices that connect directly into the facility’s digital environments. Now, many patients are using handhelds, tablets, and laptops to engage with a provider’s online systems. 

Implementing security protocols plays a vital role in boosting security efforts on mobile devices, including:

  • Requiring strong passwords or biometrics to increase device protection
  • Use VPN connections
  • Encrypt devices
  • Install an Antivirus solution
  • Update the system to the latest software application

Healthcare organizations should also ensure non-employee personnel are compartmentalized to a segregated guest network that is incapable of transmitting data to and from the production network and systems.

Data Breaches

Data breaches occur at an alarming rate throughout the healthcare sector. Electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) is considered highly valuable on the black market, making data breaches a lucrative opportunity for cybercriminals.

However, cybercriminals aren’t the only ones causing data breaches within healthcare. Medical facility employees can also be the initiators of a system compromise by purposefully or accidentally revealing ePHI data.

Implementing practical application and network security are crucial to preventing a data breach and minimizing the risk of an inadvertent violation, including:

  • Encryption
  • Consistent user training 

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)

A distributed denial of service attack overwhelms a healthcare organization’s network, rendering much, if not all of it, inoperable, making them a big concern for healthcare organizations.

An onslaught can quickly bring a digital environment to its knees, preventing providers from accessing mission-critical components, such as patient care documentation and emails. DDoS attacks can be launched in a multitude of ways, making it vital to understand the type of cybersecurity attack that is occurring to help mitigate or prevent an attack.

One of the best defenses against DDoS attacks is proper change management and patching.  Many of the DDoS vulnerabilities currently plaguing healthcare organizations can be remediated through operating system and application patch deployment.

Business Email Compromise

Business email compromises (BECs) are so common that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) refers to them as the “12 Billion Dollar Scam.”

Also known as email account compromise, or phishing, BEC threat agents utilize bogus emails or a compromised address to lure healthcare employees into wiring money into a fraudulent account, clicking on a malicious link to steal credentials, or triggering malware deployment through an infected attachment or download link.

These cybercriminals often pose as someone of authority within the healthcare organization to make the request seem more authentic. 

Here are ways to prevent a BEC cyber attack:

  • Company-wide staff training
  • Reviewing your organization’s existing processes to identify email vulnerabilities
  • Test incident management and phish attack reporting systems 


For more insights and strategies on how to protect your healthcare organization and patient information, visit our webinars page