How to protect your practice from cyberattacks

Michael-Cheong Michael Choeng
13 March 2023
3 min read

14 March 2023

Waking up to a cyber event can be paralysing, and for healthcare providers, particularly frightening. Workstations locked down, operations at a standstill, patient records unreachable, drug delivery hindered, besides the financial implications of these events, there are other serious consequences for the treatment of patients, resulting in cancelled appointments, staff overtime, rerouted services, reputational damage or worst of all, harm to patients.

Ransomware attacks are expected to intensify in 2023 and reach new levels of maliciousness, so knowing the vulnerabilities at play in any clinical environment can help reduce the risk and mitigate the cost of an attack. Primary healthcare and specialist medical practices are widely considered the most vulnerable in the small to medium enterprise (SME) market due to the data they hold, and cybercriminals find the types of systems these practices use to be very appealing.

Cyberattacks can have grave consequences for both the medical practice and the patients whose information is compromised. The medical practice may suffer financial losses and reputational damage, while patients may suffer harm due to a loss of privacy or medical identity theft.

Most medical professionals are aware of the sheer volume and complexity of the data involved in the provision of treatment. Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), for example, may contain a wide variety of information, including patient demographics, medical history, lab results, imaging studies, and notes from healthcare providers. This makes it difficult to secure all the data and protect against all potential threats.

Adding to this challenge, other healthcare organisations within a patient’s ecosystem of care often have many connected devices and software, like medical equipment, that are not designed with security in mind. This can make it easy for cybercriminals to access the networks and systems of the organisation and move laterally through the network once they have gained initial access.

The Cyber Security Lifecycle
Know that there isn't a quick fix when it comes to cyber safety; instead, think of it as a continuous journey of auditing and refinement as demonstrated by this Cyber Security Lifecycle diagram.

Cybersecurity lifecycle

How to protect your healthcare facility from cyberattacks

Given the importance of patient data and the high stakes of healthcare operations it is essential for orthopaedic surgeons and healthcare facilities to have robust data security protocols in place. A few ways to mitigate the risk of a cyberattack include:

  • Implementing strong authentication methods

  • Using encryption to protect sensitive data

  • Regularly updating software

  • Conducting penetration testing and vulnerability assessments

  • Providing employee training on cybersecurity

  • Managing secure remote access due to the rise of telemedicine

  • Ensuring third-party vendor security

  • Establishing routine monitoring of your organisation’s network activity

It’s a journey, not a destination

When it comes to cyber safety, it is not about implementing a few new pieces of software and forgetting about it. It’s a continuous journey of auditing and refinement – but you don’t need to do it alone.

Following a cyber incident, a regional hospital contacted our cyber security team for an assessment of its current cyber security state. We were able to help assess threats to the hospital and its vulnerabilities and provide thorough recommendations to help strengthen its security posture.

The Findex Cyber Security team leverages a global network of cyber experts to provide specialised support to local and multi-national organisations, helping them navigate the rapidly changing threat landscape with confidence. The team brings a global best practice pragmatic approach, providing technical testing and assessments with reporting catering to both technical and business stakeholders. Get in touch to learn more.

Author: Michael Choeng | Associate Partner