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Why Do Hackers Steal Medical Information?

Thousands of electronic medical records are stolen by hackers every year from hospitals, clinics, and any other healthcare organization. Data breaches have become so common in the daily news that we often don’t consider the true ramifications of millions of compromised accounts, simply because we don’t see the problem ever directly affecting us. But 1 out of every 4 cyberattacks is targeted to businesses in the health care industry, with hackers aiming for the personal health records of health systems’ patients.

But why exactly do hackers target hospital databases for medical information so often? Many people underestimate the value that a huge collection of medical records can be for a person or group with certain intentions. Simply put, an electronic health record is a treasure trove of information, containing all the vital information of a person, including their full name, financial information, address history, social security number, and more. This information is more than enough for hackers to take out a loan, set up a credit line, and other acts of fraud and medical identity theft.

The Value of Medical Information To Hackers

Hospitals and health care organizations find themselves in need of updating their cyber security and safeguards as often as possible, with hackers aiming for the treasure trove of patient medical information available in every health care provider and hospital’s database.

With a medical record collection, hackers usually take the medical data to the darknet or the online black market, putting them up for sale to the highest bidder. Some of the things that buyers can do with this information include:

  • Creating fake IDs to purchase drugs or medical equipment
  • Filing false health insurance claims
  • Taking out a loan in another person’s name
  • Setting up a credit line in another person’s name
  • And more acts of fraud, identity theft, and other crimes

In fact, the selling of medical information stolen from the healthcare sector on the darknet is so prevalent that it can take cybersecurity experts just seconds to find hotspots of stolen health records for sale online. These patient records stolen from the healthcare industry also don’t go for cheap, with a single patient’s full health records sometimes selling for up to $1,000 each. Credit card information and Social Security numbers only sell for up to $100 each, which is why hackers are always trying to break into hospital databases.

In one case, a hacker known as “thedarkoverlord” had 655,000 stolen medical records from three large hospital databases up for sale for nearly $700,000; he attempted to ransom the remaining unsold health records back to the hospitals afterwards. This is known as a ransomware attack.

8 Practical Tips To Protect Your Data From Hackers 

1) Establish Cybersecurity Practices and Policies

Medspas hold the same amount of information as any medical office, making them just as vulnerable to a healthcare data breach. If your aesthetic clinic doesn’t have cybersecurity policies and practices in place, now is the time to get started. One of the most important things to do is to have your entire network assessed by a cybersecurity expert. Taking into account all medical devices and software you use, including your EMR software, IT providers can hook you up with vulnerability management software and help you develop good cybersecurity practices. 

2) Regularly Back Up Your Healthcare Data

More often than not, hackers might decide to hold your own health data ransom once they get into your system. This cyber attack involves the installation of an encrypting device to perform ransomware where the hackers threaten to erase all your data or keep it under lock and key until you pay a ransom. The only problem with this is that paying hackers don’t always guarantee that you’ll get your stolen data back. 

With regular backups, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your patients’ health information is stored securely elsewhere. When picking an EMR software, look into whether it performs automatic backups in the background just like Calysta EMR. 

Read more: How Manual Medical Records Should Be Stored And Secured

3) Conduct Cybersecurity Training 

Aesthetic clinics and healthcare facilities are just as vulnerable as physician offices. Conducting cybersecurity training either in-house or with the help of IT experts is useful in making sure your employees don’t fall for the usual scams. With the evolving landscape of cyberattacks, most people don’t know what to expect next. With regular training, you’ll significantly reduce the risk you’re putting on your patient data because your employees will be aware of the usual tactics involved. 

4) Limit Access 

One great way to significantly reduce the risk of a medical data breach is by limiting access to pertinent information to executive-level employees only. Not everyone on your team should have access to the sensitive personal information or even crucial business data. By limiting your team’s access to information and data that is relevant to them, you reduce the risk of exposing the entire network should a breach occur. 

5) Create Separate WiFi Networks

Malicious cybercriminals could piggyback from vulnerable patient devices. Create a separate wifi channel for public access. This way, attackers won’t have a free ride into connected devices through the wifi network. 

6) Maintain An Anti-Virus Software For Your Devices 

Antivirus software would be your first line of defense against malicious attackers. As cyberattacks become more sophisticated, so too have anti-virus software. Vulnerability management software at the enterprise level, and even next-generation anti-virus software, have all been designed to add an extra layer of protection for your aesthetic clinic’s network and its data, keeping it safe from malicious malware and viruses.

7) Encrypt Devices 

Just like installing anti-virus software across all devices, data encryption can help when it comes to stolen or missing devices. Encryption ensures that any sensitive data and information are only visible by those who need to see it. 

8) Change Passwords Regularly 

Even if you already think you have the perfect password no hacker or malicious software could crack, it’s still highly recommended to regularly change your passwords, at least once every few months. It’s also important to use a variety of passwords, ideally a unique password for each login, as you never know which database has been compromised and sold to hackers targeting other industries.

Learn more: How Do You Secure A Patient Record?

Safe and Secure Aesthetic Medical Records With Calysta EMR

Calysta EMR is the electronic medical healthcare record solution perfectly fitted for all aesthetic clinics and practices. Our EMR solution is designed and safeguarded specifically for aesthetic service providers, and we have helped countless aesthetic providers give their patients the safest and most secure EMR experience ever.

Learn more about Calysta EMR and start your free trial with our EMR service today.

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