Ransomware has become one of the top security concerns of the twenty-first century. As businesses of all sizes attempt to ward off digital intruders—leaders must remain vigilant in their defense against cybercriminals. Whether your organization is a local credit union or a physician group, all companies must protect their data, workflows, and revenue growth against cybercriminals.
All types of organizations experience cyber threats, but the healthcare and financial industries are among the most vulnerable. Cybercriminals are targeting these types of companies at growing rates, forcing organizational decision-makers to remain focused on taking the steps necessary to protect sensitive information.
Here’s some current stats related to ongoing cybersecurity concerns in these industries:
- Over 41 million healthcare patient records were breached in 2019, more than triple the amount reported in 2018
- Healthcare breaches increased at a rate of 196% from 2018 to 2019 according to the Department of Health and Human Services
- Only 1.7% of healthcare organizations have appropriate policies in place to protect against unauthorized senders
- Financial services accounted for 25% of all malware attacks in 2019
- One-quarter of financial service employees may currently be susceptible to phishing and malware attacks
A recent Gartner report found that 60% of all businesses will suffer from ransomware attacks this year. The financial fallout resulting from cyber-attacks can devastate organizations of all sizes. Monetary damages associated with ransomware will grow to $20 billion globally in 2021, nearly doubling from 2019. As hospitals and financial service institutes continue dealing with threats, companies should follow best practices to improve their overall cybersecurity posture.
Let’s look at ways organizations can improve their cybersecurity posture while minimizing the risk of cyber-attacks and data breaches.
Identifying External Vulnerabilities
Cybercriminals often target organizations that lack sufficient security protocols. Without appropriate safeguards in place, criminals can easily infiltrate networks and exploit users. Healthcare and financial institutions may be at heightened risk of breaches and attacks for a multitude of reasons.
Hospitals generally utilize a variety of internal systems and software. Without creating the time and processes to upgrade and patch each of these systems, cybercriminals can quickly pinpoint and exploit vulnerabilities. Since many healthcare organizations lack sufficient IT resources, security protocols are often left outdated. Furthermore, healthcare member portals may be left unsecured and vulnerable to attack. While convenient, these portals allow patients to access functions such as prescription refills and appointment scheduling, but this information in the wrong hands can put patients at risk.
Financial service industries often face similar concerns. As these institutions focus on modernizing their infrastructure - moving from legacy systems to modern digital platforms - cybersecurity gaps can leave organizations vulnerable to attack. Criminals target financial institutions because they know these institutions have the means to pay ransomware demands.
Ensure SSL Certificates are Updated
SSL certificates enable encrypted communications between web browsers and servers. These digitized padlocks ensure that only intended users can view relevant web traffic. Healthcare organizations utilize user portals that allow patients to access information online. Financial institutes enable users to access personal financial data and banking information online. SSL certificates are needed in both instances to prevent unauthorized users from accessing and divulging this personal data.
Updating these certificates will help to maintain adequate security protocols. Failure to do so may allow outsiders to retrieve sensitive information such as login information and payment credentials. SSL certificates must be updated and regularly renewed before the expiration date.
Furthermore, both healthcare and financial institutions are subject to stringent compliance and regulatory requirements. Healthcare organizations must follow appropriate HIPAA standards, while financial institutions adhere to FDIC and other regulatory requirements. Ensuring SSL certificates are updated can protect data encryption mechanisms.
Configuring SPF and DMARC Records
SPF and DMARC records help prevent the occurrence of phishing attacks. By authenticating mail servers, they ensure only authorized users can send emails. Cybercriminals may illegitimately pose as company employees and infiltrate servers.
Many healthcare and financial institutions lack the SPF and DMARC records needed for adequate security. Statistics show that only 1.7% of healthcare organizations have policies set to reject unauthorized senders and often implement permissive monitor-only policies related to DMARC authorizations. Other studies have found that 80% of financial institutions also lack security technology needed to detect and block against sophisticated attacks.
Conversely, 60% of healthcare organizations are taking action to utilize Sender Policy Framework (SPF) standards. Using SPF alone can be an ineffective security control measure that doesn’t prevent hackers from using email impersonation tactics. Healthcare and financial institutes should implement SPF and DMARC records to help protect against cases of email spoofing, phishing, and other types of cyber threats. Otherwise, valuable user information may be at risk of exposure.
Perform Penetration Testing
Penetration testing is one method companies use to help identify security vulnerabilities. Using simulated hacker techniques, Pen Testing helps pinpoint possible security issues before they arise. These simulated cyberattacks use a variety of techniques aimed at exploiting existing security vulnerabilities.
Penetration testing uses scenarios implemented to gain access and extract critical data. These real-life hacker exercises are a valuable tool to provide security and IT teams with feedback needed to protect against future attacks.
The healthcare industry must comply with HIPAA guidelines using testing mechanisms that prevent hacking occurrences. Financial services must also adhere to various government regulatory guidelines when it comes to protecting consumer information. IT teams on both sides should perform testing to help assess security system vulnerabilities and weaknesses.
Using TBC’s Cybersecurity Diagnostic Tools
Cybersecurity continues to be an ongoing risk for all types of organizations. As healthcare and financial service organizations increasingly become targets for malware and ransomware they must exercise precautionary measures to identify and eliminate various risk factors.
Many organizations mistakenly believe they are too small to fall victim to ransomware attacks. Cybercriminals are more adept at targeting smaller companies than larger ones. Smaller healthcare practices and financial lending institutions tend to lack sufficient IT and security protocols, which may increase their risk of cyberattacks.
As cybersecurity continues to become an ever-increasing risk, many companies may be leaving valuable digital assets exposed. TBConsulting helps organizations of all sizes pinpoint potential risk factors using specific diagnostic reporting tools.
TBC provides a free Cybersecurity Risk Diagnostic tool that can help healthcare and financial organizations determine if their systems are at risk of cyber-attacks and data breaches. The assessment uses the following steps to help expose potential risk factors, including:
- Checking domains to reveal open ports and identifying risks associated with those open ports
- Helping to identify an organization’s external vulnerabilities
- Checking if SSL certificates are updated
- Checking for SPAM protection
- Creating a future roadmap that can limit cybersecurity risks and guide companies moving forward
Healthcare organizations and financial institutions that wish to test their current cybersecurity protocols can visit TBC’s site to perform a free personalized report.
Perform a Complete Security Posture Assessment
Businesses have been dealing with unprecedented circumstances over the last several months. To make matters worse, healthcare and financial organizations are increasingly becoming victims of cyber-attacks and full-scale data breaches. Healthcare and financial service institutions must protect valuable data and consumer information during these critical times.
TBConsulting is currently offering several resources to help. Healthcare organizations and financial institutions may unknowingly be putting themselves at increased risks of phishing, ransomware, and malware attacks. Due to the valuable nature of personal data and the antiquated legacy systems in place—healthcare providers and financial institutions may be at high risk of ransomware attacks.
TBC provides security tools aimed at helping organizations improve security strategies and optimize workplace efficiencies. We remain committed to assisting companies achieve mission-critical functions through strategic initiatives and protect security infrastructures. Let TBC perform a security posture assessment to help your organization identify, address, and minimize potential risks that may be threatening your data and environment. For more information, feel free to schedule a free consultation with one of our trusted experts.