Senior living communities and skilled nursing facilities are exceptionally vulnerable to cyberattacks in today’s digital age.
These attacks can range from the hacking of personal and medical information to the theft of passwords for fraudulent activities. Shockingly, human error often lies at the root of these vulnerabilities.
Cybercriminals specifically target the healthcare industry. Nursing homes and senior living facilities, due to the sensitive and valuable data they possess, can often times be inadequate in their network security measures. Hacking is the primary cause of most breaches, with human error accounting for approximately 20% of cases.
Nursing homes, in particular, face an elevated risk of cyberattacks. Cybercriminals aim to gain unauthorized access to the extensive data of residents, patients, and employees. This data is then exploited in fraudulent schemes or identity theft. According to McKnights Long-Term Care News, global cyberattacks against the healthcare industry have witnessed a staggering increase of 74% compared to the previous year.
So, how DO hackers make money from stolen medical data? According to HIPAA Journal online, “Healthcare records are so valuable because they can be used to commit a multitude of crimes. Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and demographic data can be used to commit identity theft to obtain loans and credit cards in victims’ names.”
Frequently, these actions involve individuals unknowingly clicking on suspicious emails or engaging in physical theft. For instance, a curious person may plug an unattended USB drive into a computer that contains critical information, enabling hackers to easily access confidential files.
There are many reasons behind data breaches in these environments. Most can be traced back to human error, weak passwords, and unintentional employee actions.– Carlos Salas, Head of Platform Engineering, NordLayer
Now, there is national support. Recognizing the urgency of addressing these vulnerabilities, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has recently launched new tools designed to assist nursing homes in curbing cyberattacks. These tools include education on social engineering, ransomware, loss or theft of equipment or data, accidental or malicious data loss by insiders, and attacks against network-connected medical devices. Contact vcpi to coordinate training and educating your team. In case you missed it, here is our blog on 10 Best Practices for Secure Web Browsing for Senior Living Communities.
Several actionable tips can be implemented to protect resident data effectively.
It is essential to use verified cybersecurity software, ensuring its installation on all connected devices and the establishment of a secure network infrastructure. Regular software updates are crucial, as is the training of staff on cybersecurity best practices and the implementation of robust system access controls. Additionally, conducting routine risk assessments to identify weaknesses in provider systems comes highly recommended.
As the threat of cyberattacks continues to grow, it is imperative for nursing homes and senior living facilities to take immediate action in fortifying their cybersecurity defenses. By addressing the underlying causes of these vulnerabilities, implementing effective training programs, and embracing comprehensive risk assessment practices, these establishments can successfully protect the privacy and well-being of their residents, shielding them from the devastating consequences of cybercrime.
Since 2000 vcpi has been focused solely on providing comprehensive IT support to the senior living and post-acute care industry. As a SOC2 (Type II) certified organization (the only provider in the senior care sector), your mission critical data and applications are securely hosted with vcpi in its hybrid cloud environment. Professional engineers and support teams are staffed 24/7 to serve your needs. Let us care for your IT while you care for your residents.