Healthcare organisations fell victim to ransomware attacks in the cloud in 2020

One in four healthcare firms were fined for non-compliance and one in 10 were sued because of a cloud breach, says new Netwrix study

Posted 25 February 2021 by Christine Horton

Phishing topped the list of most common cloud-based cybersecurity incidents experienced by healthcare institutions in 2020, which was reported by 44 percent of organisations. This was followed by ransomware (39 percent) and data theft by insiders (35 percent).

That’s according to the findings for the healthcare sector from Netwrix’s global 2021 Netwrix Cloud Data Security Report.

Data theft was the hardest of the three to detect; more than half of organisations required days or weeks to flag it, while phishing and ransomware were spotted in hours or less by the overwhelming majority.

The top consequences of cloud breaches in the healthcare sector were unplanned expenses to fix security gaps (24 percent), compliance fines (23 percent) and lawsuits (11 percent).

Most healthcare organisations attribute their cloud security challenges to lack of budget (61 percent), lack of IT/security staff (56 percent) and employee negligence (39 percent).

The survey of IT pros also discovered that 61 percent of healthcare organisations store customer data in the cloud and 54 percent store personal health records there. Thirty-two percent of healthcare organisations needed days to discover accidental data leakage and supply chain compromise. The top security measures healthcare organisations are taking in response to cloud security challenges are encryption (78 percent), review of access rights (75 percent) and employee training (65 percent).

New cyber threats

“An explosion of telehealth services and the shift of non-clinical employees to WFH increased the need for cloud technologies in the healthcare sector. As a result, new avenues for cyber threats opened up,” said Ilia Sotnikov, VP of product management at Netwrix.

“Moreover, because hospitals and health systems are dealing with high caseloads caused by the pandemic, the threat to care delivery remains extremely high. Our report highlights the lack of security fundamentals that could improve the security posture of these organisations. They should consider stronger data governance processes to reduce their attack surface; real-time user activity monitoring to improve time to detect incidents; and training and security awareness programmes for both IT staff and employees.”