Amidst the ongoing challenges facing the healthcare sector, a recent cyber security incident has brought to light the vulnerability of critical systems within the industry and the need for additional steps to protect against cyber attacks.

When it comes to healthcare, security is everything. From direct patient and resident care to the infrastructure and support systems that enable the many services delivered each day, great attention is directed to managing risk in the form of processes and regulatory compliance. Patient privacy is protected through information technology standards that comply with HIPAA laws and data integrity is prioritized at every level of the organization. 

The recent wave of successful cyber attacks, however, and the harm being inflicted upon healthcare organizations as a result, has many healthcare IT leaders concerned about their defensive posture. Many are asking themselves if they are doing enough. As they watch both small and large hospitals, systems, and other providers impacted, with some rendered unable to continue to deliver the critical services on which their communities depend, leading healthcare organizations are seeking additional steps to protect against cyber attacks.

Healthcare & Technology

While technology has streamlined the delivery of healthcare services in many ways, it has also provided a new vector by which criminals can enter and cause havoc with crucial systems. The recent Change Healthcare attack is both an example of the damage that can be inflicted, and a cautionary tale for any organization that operates in the healthcare space. A simple internet search will provide the myriad details surrounding the attack itself which occurred on February 21, 2024.  

According to TechTarget, the cyberattack on Change Healthcare was carried out by a ransomware group known as ALPHV or BlackCat and led to significant disruptions in Change Healthcare’s operations. 

Soon after, a Midwest operator of nearly 100 nursing homes declared bankruptcy, citing recent ransomware attacks as well as “disruptions in payments” caused by the Change Healthcare attack.  

Undoubtedly, additional headlines will follow as more details emerge regarding the full impact of the cyber events, but going forward, organizations will likely be more motivated than ever to ensure that their own systems are secure.  

Proactive Measures for Cyber Security

A large-scale breach, while damaging to industry perception, can often inspire healthcare organizations to adopt more proactive measures to protect their systems from attack.   

“The six critical steps healthcare organizations should take right now to protect themselves from potential ransomware attacks and other cyberthreats are HIPAA security risk assessments, vulnerability scanning and remediation, penetration testing, effective vendor management, incident response plans and exercises, and contingency disaster recovery plans and testing,” said John DiMaggio CEO at BlueOrange Compliance. 

By employing the following six steps to protect against cyber attacks recommended by BlueOrange Compliance, healthcare organizations can take a proactive approach to security: 

  1. HIPAA Security Risk Assessments 
  2. Vulnerability Scanning and Remediation 
  3. Penetration Testing 
  4. Effective Vendor Management 
  5. Incident Response Plans and Exercises 
  6. Contingency Disaster Recovery Plans and Testing 

With years of experience in navigating the complex landscape of healthcare compliance, BlueOrange Compliance is well-positioned to provide valuable perspectives on the significance of recent cyber threats and strategies to mitigate such risks in the future.  

Implementing Steps to Protect Against Cyber Attacks

To manage ever-changing regulations, increased vulnerabilities, new technologies, and changes in business processes it helps to have the guidance of a team dedicated to effective security and compliance. With the right team, organizations can more easily remain a step ahead of emerging threats.  

Schedule a consultation to learn more about boosting your organization’s security and compliance with steps to protect against cyber attacks today with BlueOrange Compliance.