Seventy-three percent of health system, hospital and physician organizations report their infrastructures are unprepared to respond to attacks. The survey results estimated 1500 healthcare providers are vulnerable to data breaches of 500 or more records, representing a 300 percent increase over this year.
Black Book Market Research surveyed 2,464 security professionals from 705 provider organizations to identify gaps, vulnerabilities and deficiencies that persist in keeping hospitals and physicians proverbial sitting ducks for data breaches and cyberattacks.
Ninety-six percent of IT professionals agreed with the sentiments that data attackers are outpacing their medical enterprises, holding providers at a disadvantage in responding to vulnerabilities.
With the healthcare industry estimated to spend $134 billion on cybersecurity from 2021 to 2026, $18 billion in 2021, increasing 20% each year to nearly $37 billion in 2026, 82% of CIOs and CISOs in health systems in Q3 2020 agree that the dollars spent currently have not been allocated prior to their tenure effectively, often only spent after breaches, and without a full gap assessment of capabilities led by senior management outside of IT.
Talent shortage for cybersecurity pros continues
Additionally, 291 healthcare industry human resources executives were surveyed to determine the organizational supply and demand of experienced cybersecurity candidates. On average, cybersecurity roles in health systems take 70% longer to fill than other IT jobs.
Health systems are struggling to find workers that request cybersecurity-related skills as vacancy duration as reported by survey HR respondents average about 118 days to fill positions, nearly three times as high as the national average for other industries.
“The talent shortage for cybersecurity experts with healthcare expertise is nearing a very perilous position,” said Brian Locastro, lead researcher on the 2020 State of the Healthcare Cybersecurity Industry study by Black Book Research.
Seventy-five percent of the sixty-six-health system CISOs responding agreed that experienced cybersecurity professionals are unlikely to choose a healthcare industry career path because of one main reason.
More than in other industries, healthcare CISOs are ultimately held responsible for a data breach and the financial and reputation impacts to the provider organization despite having extremely limited decision-making technology or policy making authority.
COVID-19 has greatly increased risk of data breaches
Healthcare cybersecurity has become more complicated as providers are forced to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Understaffed and underfunded IT security departments are scrambling to accommodate the surge in demand of remote services from patients and physicians while simultaneously responding to the surge in security risks.
The survey found 90% of health systems and hospital employees who shifted to working at home due to the pandemic, did not receive any updated guidelines or training on the increasing risk of accessing sensitive patient data compromising systems
“Despite the rising threat, the vast majority of hospitals and physicians are unprepared to handle cybersecurity threats, even though they pose a major public health problem,” said Locastro.
Forty percent of all clinical hospital employees receive little or no cybersecurity awareness training still in 2020, beyond initial education on log in access.
Fifty-nine percent of health system CIOs surveyed are shifting security strategies to address user authentication and access as malicious incidents and hackers are the 2020 attacker’s go-to entry point of choice for health systems.
Stolen and compromised credentials were ongoing issues for 53% of health systems surveyed as hackers are increasingly using cloud misconfigurations to breach networks.
Cybersecurity consulting and advisory services are in high demand
Sixty-nine percent of 219 C-Suite respondents state their health system’s budget for cybersecurity consulting is increasing in 2021 to assess gaps, secure network operations, and user security on-premises and in the cloud.
“In today’s highly competitive cybersecurity market there isn’t enough talent to staff hospitals and health systems,” said Locastro.
“As provider organizations struggle with recruit, hire and retain in house staff, the plausible choice is retaining an experienced advisory firm that is capable of identifying and remediating hidden security vulnerabilities, which appeals to the strategic and economic sense of boards and CEOs.”
Healthcare cybersecurity challenges find resolutions from outsourced services
“The dilemma with cybersecurity budgeting and forecasting is the lack of reliable historical data,” said Locastro. “Cybersecurity is a newer line item for hospitals and physician enterprises and budgets have not evolved to cover the true scope of human capital and technology requirements yet.”
That shortage of healthcare cybersecurity professionals and a lack of appropriate technology solutions implemented is forcing a rush to acquire services and outsourcing at a pace five times more than the acquisition of cybersecurity products and software solutions.
Cybersecurity companies are responding to the labor crunch by offering healthcare providers and hospitals with a growing portfolio of managed services.
“The key place to start when choosing a cybersecurity services vendor is to understand your threat landscape, understanding the type of services vendors offer and comparing that to your organization’s risk framework to select your best-suited vendor,” said Locastro.
“Healthcare organizations are also more prone to attacks than other industries because they persist at managing through breaches reactively.”
Fifty-one percent of in-house IT management respondents with purchasing authority report their group is e not aware of the full variety of cybersecurity solution sets that exist, particularly mobile security environments, intrusion detection, attack prevention, forensics and testing in various healthcare settings.
Cybersecurity in healthcare provider organizations remains underfunded
The amount of dollars that are actually spent on healthcare industry cybersecurity products and services are increasing, averaging 21% year over year since 2017. Extended estimates have estimated nearly $140 Billion will be spent by health systems and health insurers by 2026.
However, 82% of hospital CIOs in inpatient facilities under 150 staffed beds and 90% of practice administrators collectively state they are not even close to spending an adequate amount on protecting patient records from a data breach.
“Outdated IT systems, fewer cybersecurity protocols, untrained IT staff on evolving security skills, and data-rich patient files are making healthcare the current target of hacker attacks,” said Locastro. “And the willingness of hospitals and physician practices to pay high ransoms to regain their data quickly motivates hackers to focus on patient records.”
“Threats are now four times more likely to be centered on healthcare than any other industry, and ransomware attacks are increasing in popularity because of the amount of privileged information the hacker can obtain,” said Locastro.
“Providers at the point-of-care haven’t kept pace with the cybersecurity progress and tools that manufacturers, IT software vendors, and the FDA have made either.”
Healthcare consumers willing to change providers if patient privacy was comprised
Eighty percent of healthcare organization have not had a cybersecurity drill with an incident response process, despite the skyrocketing cases of data breaches in the healthcare industry in 2020.
Only 14 percent of hospitals and six percent of physician organizations believe that a 2021 assessment of their cybersecurity will show improvement from 2020. Twenty-six percent of provider organizations believe their cybersecurity position has worsened, as compared to three percent in other industries, year-to-year.
“Medical and financial leaders have wielded more influence over organizational budgets and made it difficult for IT management to implement needed cybersecurity practices despite the existing environment, but now consumers are beginning to react negatively to the provider’s lack of protection solutions.”
A poll of 3,500 healthcare consumers that used medical or hospital services in the last eighteen months revealed 93% would leave their provider if their patient privacy was comprised in an attack that could have been prevented.
UPDATE: January 11, 2021 – 02:25 AM ET
Take the data provided by Black Book Market Research with a grain of salt, Bloomberg has more about them. Yes, this is the same publication that published The Big Hack with virtually no proof, but it’s still worth being cautious.