Cyberattacks are on the rise, putting organizations like government agencies and healthcare providers at risk.
Today’s organizations rely heavily on technology to remain competitive in rapidly evolving and increasingly complex marketplaces. But the more an organization integrates technology into its infrastructure, the more susceptible it becomes to cyberattacks. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, last year, approximately 1,340 data breaches were identified between January and November alone, resulting in nearly 164 million records being exposed to cyberattackers.
While the majority of these breaches were tied to the financial industry, the healthcare industry accounted for 36.2 percent of all identified data breaches, and had almost 38 million of its data records accessed inappropriately. Government and military agencies accounted for 5.9 percent of total breaches, and had some 3.6 million of their data records exposed.
The impact of these breaches can be devastating. Juniper Research found that the cost of data breaches will rise from $3 trillion per year in 2019 to $5 trillion per year in 2024 as a result of increasing regulatory fines and lost business. Other studies highlight the impact these attacks can have on productivity, explaining that a single hour of network downtime costs an organization an average of $300,000. For organizations operating in nearly every industry, these findings underscore the need for adherence to robust cybersecurity management best practices that are designed to keep even the most advanced attackers at bay.
The Risk to the Public Sector
Due to the large volume of sensitive information they have access to, government agencies are constantly at risk of experiencing a cyberattack. Smaller public sector organizations within counties, cities, townships, and school districts are especially at risk, as they tend to be less equipped than their larger counterparts to protect themselves from increasingly sophisticated cyberattackers. A few of the most common types of cyberattacks include:
Denial-of-Service or Distributed Denial-of-Service Attacks: These attacks make servers and networks unstable by overloading them with connection requests.
Malware: These attacks use malicious links or email attachments that install software that restricts user access and/or collects sensitive information.
Phishing: Phishing involves a hacker pretending to be a trusted source or figure in order to solicit information from an organization’s employees.
The costs of these attacks can be significant for smaller agencies. In 2019, officials in a Florida city voted to pay nearly $600,000 to hackers who had frozen the city’s IT infrastructure. Less than a week later, a second Florida city paid a similar amount to recover its data from hackers.
Putting Patient Confidentiality in Jeopardy
The healthcare industry is required by law to keep patient records confidential, making data breaches a particularly pernicious threat. However, as the industry moves towards total digitization and increased data sharing, cyberattackers are presented with a larger number of system infiltration points than ever before, putting patient records in danger.
For many of these hackers, email has become a primary attack vector in light of its growing popularity in the healthcare field. In fact, 90 percent of hospitals and health systems experienced an email-based cyberattack in 2019, resulting in downtime for 72 percent of those providers.
Employee Security Training Is Key
Ultimately, organizations like government agencies and healthcare providers must develop robust security plans to keep their networks secure. As part of these plans, many organizations are rolling out exhaustive security training across their workforces. By providing employees with the resources and knowledge they need to identify suspicious activity, these organizations are dramatically increasing their ability to prevent phishing attempts and malware from giving cyberattackers a foothold in their IT infrastructure.
Partnering with an IT support provider like Epiphany Management Group is also a smart option for many organizations like these. As a HIPAA-compliant remote support provider specializing in seamless, secure rollouts for healthcare and public sector organizations, we’re ready to help leaders launch new devices and software solutions that support — rather than jeopardize — their organizations’ security. Interested in learning more about our full suite of services? Contact us today.