Cybersecurity in the Healthcare Industry:    Guarding Against Data Breaches with  Encryption

Deutsche Bank customer data exposed in latest MOVEit exploit | CSO Online



Healthcare has changed a lot recently and is on track to reach new heights in the future. The big reason for this progress is technology. Think about things like electronic health records(EHR), smart medical devices, using the cloud to store information and even booking doctor appointments online – it's all thanks to technology. But, here's the catch: whenever we bring in technology, we also need to take extra steps to keep data safe, healthcare is an important battleground in the fight against online dangers. Hospitals and health center's have a lot of private patient information, which makes them a top choice for cybercriminals. In this blog, we'll talk about one of the biggest problems in healthcare - data breaches. We'll also look at a solution called encryption that helps keep this valuable information safe.

What is Data Breaching?

A data breach is an incident in which sensitive, protected, or confidential data which is stored within the computer or network is accessed or disclosed without authorization such as medical records, financial information or personally identifiable information (PII) which can lead to various harmful consequences ranging from financial losses to reputational damage and identity theft.

In this modern world, the reliance of both businesses and individuals on online platforms and data storage systems has reached unprecedented levels, leading to a marked escalation in the potential vulnerability to data breaches. This surge of independence is accompanied by increasing sophistication in the methods employed by hackers and cybercriminals, who continually refine and evolve their tactics to capitalize on any loopholes or weaknesses present within security infrastructures. As a consequence, the unauthorized acquisition of valuable and sensitive information has become an imminent and pervasive threat, with the potential to cause significant harm to both individuals and organizations alike.

Data breaches can happen in many different ways:

  1. Accidental Web/Internet Exposure: This occurs when sensitive information is mistakenly placed in an online location accessible to anyone.

  2. Unauthorized Access: This is when people other than you find a way to get into a system they're not supposed to be in.

  3. Data on the Move: This occurs when someone gains access to information sent over the internet without the right protection.

  4. Employee Error/Negligence/Improper Disposal/Loss: This is when someone who works for a company doesn't follow the rules and lets important information get into the wrong hands.

  5. Hacking/Intrusion: This is when a person from outside gets into a system and takes information using tricks like fake emails or harmful software.

  6. Insider Theft: This is when someone who works for a company steals important information on purpose.

  7. Physical Theft: This is when someone steals a computer or a phone that has important information on it.

Now that we understand what data breaching is, let's explore how it happens in the healthcare sector and why it can be advantageous for hackers.

Data Breaching in HealthCare Industries

Healthcare companies are increasingly adopting electronic records and utilizing digital services, which in turn are expanding the playing field for cybercriminals. These malicious acts have already compromised the private medical data of countless patients. According to the report, the number of healthcare data breaches continues to increase each year. In 2016 there were 329 reported breaches in healthcare while in 2021 there were 715 or nearly two healthcare data breaches every day of the year.

Data breaches in this sector not only compromise patient confidentiality but also serve as a lucrative opportunity for cybercriminals seeking to exploit the vulnerabilities inherent in these systems. Let's see how all these things happen, One of the common methods involves unauthorized access to patient records, where cyber attackers exploit weaknesses in security measures to gain entry to sensitive information. This type of breach can lead to the exposure of personal and medical data, which puts patient privacy at risk and potentially leads to identity theft or other forms of fraud.

Phishing attacks represent another significant threat, This is where cybercriminals send tricky emails or messages to healthcare workers, trying to get them to share important information like login credentials or other access codes. These attacks can be highly sophisticated and convincing, making it challenging for individuals to discern between legitimate and fraudulent communications. Moreover, physical theft of devices storing sensitive data poses a considerable risk. If a laptop, smartphone, or other physical device containing patient information is stolen, the data stored within these devices can be easily accessed by unauthorized individuals. This type of breach underscores the importance of implementing stringent physical security measures in addition to digital safeguards.

Outdated security measures and the lack of strong cybersecurity make healthcare organizations easy targets for cyber attacks. Often, these organizations use old software and ignore updating security, making them vulnerable to hackers. Without strict cybersecurity practices like regular security checks and advanced encryption, data breaches become more likely. These breaches don't just affect the people involved but also harm the reputation of the healthcare organizations. Patients may suffer emotionally and financially because of identity theft and fraud using their information. Moreover, healthcare providers may face legal trouble and lose trust, leading to financial problems. To fix this, healthcare organizations must focus on better security, like regular checks, training staff about cybersecurity, and using advanced encryption, to protect patient data and regain trust in the healthcare industry.

For hackers, the healthcare sector is like a goldmine of precious and sensitive information. The valuable information in healthcare databases gives hackers a complete picture of a person's identity, including personal information, medical history, and financial transactions. This data can be used to create complex plans for stealing someone's identity. This could lead to unauthorized financial transactions, accessing medical services without permission, or obtaining prescription drugs for illegal activities. Moreover, the delicate information can be used by hackers to plan intricate insurance fraud. They might change patient records, make fake medical claims, or fabricate medical conditions to get insurance money illegally. These fraudulent activities not only cost insurance companies a lot of money but can also affect the healthcare services that real patients need.

Protecting data using Encryption


In simple terms, Encryption is like putting your messages or information into a secret code so that only the people you want can understand it. It uses a special key to change the information into the secret code, and then the same key can change it back to the original message. There are different types of encryption, but they all work to keep your information safe from people who shouldn't see it. It's like putting your message in a locked box that only you and the person you're sending it to have the key for. The primary purpose of encryption is to ensure that data remains confidential and protected from unauthorized access, interception, or tampering.

In technical terms, encryption involves the use of an algorithm to convert plain, readable data, often referred to as plaintext, into an unintelligible form known as ciphertext. This process typically requires the use of an encryption key, which serves as a critical component in both the encryption and decryption of data. The encryption key is a complex mathematical value that is applied in the encryption process, converting the plaintext into ciphertext and is subsequently used in the decryption process to restore the original data from the ciphertext.

There are two main kinds of encryption: symmetric and asymmetric encryption, also called public-key encryption.

Symmetric encryption: With symmetric encryption, the same key is used to change the information into code and back again. Both the sender and receiver need the same secret key to do this, so sharing the key safely is important.

Asymmetric encryption: Asymmetric encryption uses a pair of keys, a public key, and a private key. The public key is for changing the information into code, and the private key, only known to the receiver, is for changing it back. This way, people can communicate securely without needing to share the private key, since the public key can be shared openly.

By implementing encryption protocols, healthcare organizations can mitigate the potential consequences of data breaches, such as identity theft, insurance fraud, or unauthorized access to medical services. This not only safeguards the privacy and confidentiality of patient information but also helps to maintain the integrity and trustworthiness of the healthcare industry as a whole. In the healthcare industry, there are special rules, like HIPAA, that say using encryption is a must to keep patient data safe and private. Following these rules is very important for healthcare organizations to avoid getting into legal trouble and to keep the trust of their patients and partners.


Encryption is like a strong shield that protects patient information in healthcare. It helps keep things private, intact, and accessible only to the right people. When healthcare organizations make encryption a top priority, they make their cybersecurity stronger and create a safe space for storing and sending important healthcare data.

Let's Connect