Digitisation has enabled healthcare to transition online. And because of the pandemic, its momentum keeps growing to protect patients and healthcare workers from physical contact and possible transmission.

The internet’s potential is undeniably fathomless, and that gives cyberattackers the power over the industry’s sensitive information, including holding the patients’ data for ransom. In fact, according to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), there is an 84% increase in cyber security threats in the healthcare sector between 2019 and 2020 alone.

Since telehealth services are sealing their permanency in Australia’s healthcare system, brand abuse has no place in the industry. There is a long queue of tasks to ensure patients’ data privacy and security. It includes installing vigorous protection systems and programs to manage the aftermath of data breaches and restore the good character of the provider.


Adapting the Latest Technology

Due to the telehealth transition, the majority of the healthcare industry has already adopted a cloud-first model within the IT infrastructure that must be constantly updated to keep up with the modernised healthcare services. However, several providers still work with the Internet of Things (IoT) which comes with great security risks that cyberattackers are confident in navigating.
Telehealth solutions security is highly dependent on the configuration of the solution, data storage locations, authentication, video recording and encryption and integration with electronic health record or EHR systems.

For healthcare providers that seek to include telehealth services in their offers, a reputable third-party risk assessment program is a crucial requirement to protect data from all security risks, and ensure security-related provisions are observed when contacting third-party vendors.

Safeguarding Data

According to a consumer privacy survey in 2020, Australians’ biggest concern is the increasing data breach incidents, affecting approximately 90% of the population who chooses digital services. The top privacy concerns include data security, data breach, identity theft, and identify fraud that consumers look out for.

Additionally, healthcare attacks are more than just data security risks and more of the long-term impact of its aftermath. Finance-wise, the average cost of a data breach in Australia in 2020 is around AU$3.35 million, which translates to AU$163 per lost or stolen record. But this is nothing compared to the consumers’ loss of trust and confidence with the provider that might never be built again.

Since many providers transition to telehealth, they must keep in mind that they belong to the data-rich sectors. Here, consumers base their confidence and trust on the services and the safety of their personal information. It should be in the healthcare providers’ best interest to improve their systems to ensure top-notch data security.


Looking Out for the Healthcare Industry

Alongside the healthcare providers’ efforts to protect their consumers, technology and security measures, cybercriminals make sure that they ramp up their techniques to match theirs.

Cyber attackers are creating new ways to gain access to healthcare systems, including phishing links, third-party vulnerability or misconfiguring a system that is proven to take down any defence.

In fact, between January and March 2021, ransomware is the top incident affecting the healthcare sector in the APAC region, and phishing links are the most common modus operandi to access the systems.

While this is the healthcare sector’s worst nightmare, it is still impossible to completely avert ransomware. So, providers should include an incident response plan that is constantly updated and practised to reduce potential risk. These include:
● Updating vulnerable systems
● Securing backups
● Authorising multifactor authentication
● Advanced education and practices around cyber risks


The healthcare industry is the biggest and the most vulnerable sector that must always be protected. While it may be a progressive battle between providers and cyberattackers, there are still ways to ramp up the security to build consumer trust and confidence.
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