Tackling Cyber Security Challenges in the Healthcare Industry

By Lavanya Rathnam, Originally Posted by HealthTechZone on August 21, 2013

Healthcare industry has embraced technology in a big way during the last few years. This has created a unique digital landscape that includes the creation and distribution of electronic records, exchange of health information, accessible care and so much more. All this has increased the quality of service offered by healthcare providers to their patients.

However, as healthcare providers migrate from prescription pads to iPads, it opens up cyber security problems. There are two major problems facing the healthcare industry - computer viruses and unauthorized use of personal data. There have been many instances of hackers getting into a healthcare provider's network to access information about patients.

One such example is that of Sutter Health, a company that offers services in more than 100 town across California. Hackers accessed the information of millions of Sutter Health's patients due to multiple breaches that existed in the network. This led to a massive lawsuit worth millions of dollars. In another case, hackers infiltrated the Utah Health Department's database to access 780,000 Medicare records including 250,000 social security numbers. These breaches have proven to be costly for the healthcare industry.

Another problem is computer viruses and worms, which have caused enormous losses for the healthcare industry. In one example, the IT department failed to identify a virus at the Gwinnett Medical Center in Georgia. This virus infected the entire network, so employees had to revert back to paper records.

Such situations can be avoided with diligence and sound security practices. This is why two engineering researchers from the University of Michigan will team up with other experts from across the country to work on the cyber security of healthcare systems. These experts will use scientific methods to identify the problems and will provide solutions for the same.

It is hoped that this research will help the healthcare industry to tackle its cyber security challenges.