Cybersecurity Crisis in Healthcare Systems: How a Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) can help prevent this risk

In a world increasingly dependent on digital infrastructure, cyberattacks on healthcare systems have become a growing concern. Recently, one of the nation’s largest health systems, Ascension, fell victim to a devastating ransomware attack. This attack forced medical personnel at its 140 hospitals to revert to manual record-keeping, disrupting patient care.

The Ascension Attack: A Digital Nightmare

On May 8, Ascension’s computerized medical records were locked down by a ransomware attack believed to be orchestrated by Black Basta. Black Basta is a group with potential links to Russian-speaking cybercriminals. This attack has paralyzed the digital operations of hospitals across 19 states and the District of Columbia, impacting everything from emergency room visits to routine surgeries.

For over two weeks, doctors and nurses have resorted to paper charts and handwritten treatment orders. This manual system, reminiscent of pre-digital healthcare, has resulted in significant delays in patient care. Emergency room wait times have soared, and treatments requiring quick lab results or MRI readings have been severely delayed.

The Broader Impact: A National Health Crisis

The Ascension attack resembles a cyberattack on Change Healthcare, a UnitedHealth Group unit. Change manages the nation’s largest healthcare payment system. The attack disrupted digital billing and communication with insurers. Patients couldn’t fill prescriptions; providers lacked reimbursement for care.

The widespread impact of these attacks underscores the vulnerability of large and small healthcare organizations. Moreover, as these entities grow, they become increasingly critical components of the nation’s healthcare infrastructure. A single attack on a pivotal system can ripple through the entire healthcare ecosystem. It affects not only the targeted organization but also neighboring hospitals.

The Role of MSSPs in Preventing Cyberattacks

Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) are essential in fortifying healthcare organizations against cyber threats. Here’s how MSSPs can help:

  1. Proactive Threat Monitoring and Detection: MSSPs offer continuous monitoring. They provide advanced threat detection to identify and mitigate potential cyber threats before they can cause significant harm. This proactive approach helps in early detection of ransomware and other malware attacks.
  2. Incident Response and Recovery: MSSP provide rapid incident response services to contain and remediate cyberattacks. In addition, in the event of an attack, an MSSP can quickly implement measures to minimize damage, restore systems, and ensure continuity of care.
  3. Security Policy and Compliance Management: Additionally, an MSSP helps healthcare organizations maintain compliance with regulations like HIPAA. They ensure security policies and procedures are up-to-date and effectively implemented. This includes regular security assessments and audits.
  4. Vulnerability Management: Regular vulnerability assessments and penetration testing by MSSPs can identify and address security weaknesses in healthcare IT infrastructure, reducing the risk of successful cyberattacks.
  5. Education and Training: MSSP provides cybersecurity training for healthcare staff to enhance their awareness and understanding of security best practices, helping to prevent phishing and other social engineering attacks.

Conclusion: A Call to Action for Healthcare Systems

The Ascension cyberattack is a stark reminder of the fragile state of our healthcare systems in the digital age. As healthcare organizations continue to grow and consolidate, partnering with MSSPs to enhance cybersecurity measures is no longer optional but essential. Investing in robust cybersecurity services provided by MSSPs can safeguard patient care and data, ensuring that healthcare providers are prepared to face and mitigate cyber threats effectively. The disruption caused by these attacks is not just a technical issue but a profound threat to the health and well-being of millions of patients. It highlights the urgent need for comprehensive cybersecurity solutions in the healthcare industry.

Contact us today to speak with one of our cybersecurity experts and learn how an MSSP can help protect your organization.

Here are a few of our other articles you may be interested in:

Healthcare Business Compliance: How to Stay Legally Compliant – Merit Technologies

What Is RTO? Healthcare Disaster Recovery Planning Explained (merittechnologies.com)

Evaluate Your Healthcare MSP Relationship: 3 Red Flags (merittechnologies.com)

Source: Ascension Hospitals Reel From Cyberattack, Causing Patient Care Delays – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

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