How to quickly address data breaches in the healthcare sector

Patrick Bollhalder
Post by Patrick Bollhalder
January 26, 2023
How to quickly address data breaches in the healthcare sector

Data breaches and cyberattacks are critical situations that can have serious repercussions. The extent of disruption caused is often a costly and damaging consequence.

Operational disruption

A data breach can cause significant operational disruptions across an entire healthcare organization. Repairing equipment, patching up vulnerabilities, building temporary infrastructure and allocating resources to where they’re needed takes time and resources.

This will take a toll on any company and can result in dire consequences, which include:

  • Invasion of privacy - as patients’ sensitive medical information may be leaked
  • Financial losses - in fines, compensation and emergency consultants
  • Reputational damage and loss of business
  • Deterioration in quality of patient care - as more time and resources are diverted to handling the breach

To save valuable time and resources, healthcare and medical organizations need to understand how to limit the impact of operational disruptions during and after a data breach.

Time is of the essence

The time it takes for an organization to detect and contain a data breach is vital to limit the disruption it causes behind the scenes. In other words, the longer a breach remains undetected, the more damage it causes.

In a medical care setting, this damage is not limited to financial and corporate losses.

Personal cost of data breaches

For patients, a data breach not only threatens their right to privacy but could also threaten their life. A Ponemon Institute and Proofpoint study found that more than 20% of healthcare organizations hit with a ransomware attack or other IT compromise experienced an increase in mortality rates. This is likely the result of healthcare professionals having to spend more time on training and mitigating the fallout of a data breach rather than patient care.

System vulnerabilities

The longer a breach remains active, the more damage and vulnerabilities can manifest, and costs associated with this data loss are often catastrophic. In August of 2022, a ransomware attack on a software supplier hit the NHS and caused significant disruption to patient care across the UK. While the extent of the damage was not published, it is thought to rival that of the 2017 WannaCry attack, which cost the NHS £92 million.

With such excessive costs in place, healthcare systems need robust security to protect against such attacks. Cutting network security to save expenses often costs more in the long run.

Regulatory implications

Many regulations and laws, such as Europe’s GDPR, take into account the amount of time a data breach remains uncontained. The longer a violation exists within a company holding private information, the more severe the penalties will be.

The GDPR demands a fine of up to 20 million euros or 4% of global turnover from a healthcare organization that is found to be negligent with private data.

Private litigation and lawsuits

In addition to public regulations, patients who have their data exposed may also have private recourse. The lawsuits that are presented may argue for millions of dollars. In addition, the numerous claims of patients could quickly add up when considering the legal fees involved.

Swift response and solutions

Healthcare businesses need to have a swift response with practical solutions to boost their network security and combat operational disruptions. Every patient record or company document leaked could potentially mean thousands of dollars lost for the organization, not to mention the reputational damage they have to experience.

The most effective way to prevent a data breach is to build and fortify a layered defence system. On a network level, SCION helps protect the healthcare industry's most valuable data and ensures that connectivity and services remain reliable, secure and stable by effectively hiding the transmission of private information from hackers, rendering it invisible and unable to be targeted. If you want to find out more, contact us today.

Patrick Bollhalder
Post by Patrick Bollhalder
January 26, 2023