Health-Care Cybersecurity Rose to Fever Pitch in 2015



Cybercriminals set their sights on the health-care industry in 2015, when it became the most frequently attacked industry and the industry to face the most severe financial consequences when an organization is attacked, according to a report by IBM.   

Five of the eight largest health-care security breaches since 2010 occurred during the first six months of 2015, the IBM 2016 Cyber Security Intelligence report said. The increase in attacks made health-care the most frequently attacked industry in 2015, when over 100 million health-care records were reportedly compromised.

The average cost of a data breach at a health-care organization in the U.S. could cost as much as $398 per stolen record, compared to the average cost across industries of $217 per stolen record, according to a separate report by IBM and Ponemon Institute.

Health-care records are uniquely valuable on the black market since they contain information that can remain valid for decades such as credit card data, email addresses, social security numbers, employment information and medical history.

Inside Job

In 2015, 60 percent of cyberattacks (both intentional and inadvertent) were carried out by those with insider access to an organization’s systems, the report said.

Insider attacks carried out by inadvertent actors decreased from nearly one-half in 2014 to one-third in 2015, which could signal more organizations are implementing security policies and employee education, it said.

Data Breach Expenses

IBM said that detection and escalation costs increased dramatically from $0.42 million in 2014 to $0.61 million in 2015, according to the 2015 Cost of Data Breach Study. Detection and escalation includes forensic and investigative activities, assessments and audit services, crisis team management and communications to executive management and board of directors. 

Additional data breach costs include lost business revenue, notification services and remediation, all of which increased in costs in 2015, IBM said.   

Cyberattack Preparedness 

Considering the volume of cyberattacks, healthcare organizations should take proactive measures outside of compliance requirements to mitigate the effects of a cyberattack.  

The IBM report offered four key steps organizations can take to develop a strategic cybersecurity program: 

  • Prioritize business objectives and set risk tolerance;
  • Build a proactive security plan based on the current threat landscape;
  • Coordinate and test an incident response plan for the inevitable sophisticated attack; and
  • Promote security awareness through education and policies.

See related story, FBI: Health-Care Data Uniquely at Risk From Cyberattack.

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