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Why is Cybersecurity Important?

Cellphone holding up a file folder at gunpoint.Every day, the Indian Health Service (IHS) handles critical health and identity data that criminals consider high-value. According to the HIPAA Journal website Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving , from the start of August, 2020 to the end of July, 2021, there have been 706 reported healthcare data breaches of 500 or more records and the healthcare data of 44,369,781 individuals has been exposed or compromised. That's an average of 58.8 data breaches and around 3.70 million records per month.

In July, 2021, hackers gained access to healthcare providers and their business associates and gained access to the protected health information of more than 5.2 million individuals. The table below gives a breakdown of the 14 incidents that occurred in July, 2021.

Type of BreachBreach CauseCovered Entity TypeIndividuals AffectedBusiness Associate Present
Hacking/IT IncidentBrute force attack (Member portal)Health Plan30,063No
Hacking/IT IncidentPhishing attackHealthcare Provider35,587No
Hacking/IT IncidentPhishing attackHealthcare Provider447,426No
Hacking/IT IncidentRansomware attackHealthcare Provider45,148No
Hacking/IT IncidentRansomware attackHealthcare Provider62,342No
Hacking/IT IncidentRansomware attackHealthcare Provider700,981No
Hacking/IT IncidentRansomware attack (Elekta)Healthcare Provider28,628Yes
Hacking/IT IncidentRansomware attack (Elekta)Healthcare Provider64,600Yes
Hacking/IT IncidentRansomware attack (Elekta)Healthcare Provider68,707Yes
Hacking/IT IncidentRansomware attackBusiness Associate1,210,688Yes
Hacking/IT IncidentRansomware attack (Accellion FTA)Business Associate84,220Yes
Hacking/IT IncidentUnspecified hacking incidentHealthcare Provider2,413,553Yes
Hacking/IT IncidentUnspecified hacking incidentBusiness Associate30,468Yes
Improper DisposalImproper disposal of electronic medical recordsHealthcare Provider122,340No

Through these breaches, malicious actors are able to gain access to sensitive information that they can sell or use in any number of lucrative ways including stealing identities, submitting fraudulent insurance claims, or opening fraudulent credit card or other banking accounts, just to name a few.

Computer with skull in code, indicating being hacked.In April, 2021, Forbes Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  wrote that three trends in cybersecurity that businesses and governments need to protect against are:
  • Expanding Cyber-Attack Surface
    As more and more data becomes electronic due to expanding telework, the internet of things, medical devices that connect to the Internet, supply chains, etc., the more critical it becomes to protect systems and data.
  • Ransomware as a Cyber Weapon of Choice
    According to a research study by Deep Instinct Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving , malware increased by 358% overall and ransomware increased by 435% in 2020 as compared with 2019. And the average ransomware payout has grown to nearly $234,000 per event Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving , according to cybersecurity firm Coveware.
  • Threats Against Critical Infrastructure; Infrastructure Critical Systems, Operational Technology/Information Technology Cyber-Threat Convergence
    Recent attacks against the Colonial Pipeline, the JBS meat packing plant, and a water treatment plant in Florida highlight the vulnerabilities posed by our increasing computerization of critical systems. These vulnerabilities pose risks to the financial and physical safety of individuals, communities, and governments worldwide.