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Incident Response Drivers for Healthcare Industry

The Healthcare Industry continues to be an attractive playfield for threat actors. Taking the stats from the IBM threat intelligence index for 2022, the sector stays the sixth most targeted, following energy, wholesale, and retail sectors.

Also, certain regions show a high probability of being attacked. The Asia-Pacific regions account for 39% of all healthcare attacks, followed by North America at 33%. And without a surprise, ransomware continues as the leading method of attack representing 38% of the counted cases.

Key-attack ways in the industry include business email compromises, vulnerability exploitation, server access, credential harvesting, misconfigurations, phishing, and stolen credentials. All these facts and particulars add towards the modern-day significance and essence of healthcare cybersecurity.

Here is where, as an organziation, you need to identify unique facts and needs of the industry that makes it prone to cyber-attacks.

Unique needs of the Healthcare Industry

We all know that a healthcare data breach can cause significant expense and loss for the victims. However, the outcomes can go far beyond the cost to healthcare entities involved. Healthcare organizations need to identify risks related to technologies implemented. Let us look at some of the unique challenges the healthcare industry faces: –

  • Information Handling/ Legal, Compliance & Privacy Requirements

Firstly, healthcare data involves different levels of sensitivity. Depending on where your organization is established (geographic variations), you may have distinct requirements and regulations for data handling. The legal implications of encountering a data breach should be well-understood. You must also have clear definitions as a part of your privacy program governance.

It is also critical that your security team comprehends these requirements precisely. They should be able to clearly identify where your data is and how it is tied. Simply, it means that if you are encountering an incident, your security planners do not want to run digging out what type of data has been affected.

  • Healthcare IoT devices

The is rapid advancement and change in healthcare technologies and services. With benefits on one side, there are risks on the flip side. These risks do not always come with devices but also the delivery medium. For instance, think of the amount and criticality of health information flowing through telehealth platforms.

  • Investment, knowledge & business drivers

If you look at the threat intelligence index, nearly 60% of cyber-attack round in industries like manufacturing, finance and insurance, and professional and business services. It is due to the profit-driven nature of these businesses. Being profit-driven shifts your priorities. They invest more resources in infrastructure, security, and data privacy measures.

Similarly, some parts of the industry are also profit-driven. For instance, if you look at some sectors like the pharmaceutical industry, they are profit-driven and, at the same time, product-driven. However, other healthcare organizations have an element of profit but are more service-driven. Hence, they face a lack of security staffing and resource availability.

  • Keeping manageability in check

It is one of the most unique requirements in the healthcare sector. Because of industry’s small margin of error, incident responders need to keen-monitor the resilience posture. It is not all about creating an Incident Response plan but sound practice, effective communication, input, and collaboration that drives the difference.

Next-generation technologies, like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and advanced monitoring techniques must get integrated where possible. These technologies help organizations effectively reduce the load and task obligations of incident response staff via automated response and orchestration.

  • Need for continual improvement and readiness

If you look at a Immersive Labs study, the Cyber Workforce Benchmark 2022, it is apparent that the healthcare sector is far behind other industries concerning cyber crisis exercises. While tech companies involve 8 to 9 cyber exercises a year, it limits to 2 in the healthcare sector. Finding gaps periodically and building your resilience plan is the key. Additionally, testing and training programs are essential too.

Incident responses in healthcare sector have less time frame to respond. They might have different process requirements, like shutting down primary systems as a prudent measure. They also might require other essentials, such as operating a backup system as a momentary production environment until the threat is eradicated or contained.

healthcare data breach

Why should organizations consider adopting IR plans?

So, far we have entailed distinct requirements the industry faces. Now, it is time to look at the three significant shifts driving the IR push in the healthcare division.

1. The pace of Ransomware attackers

Yes, the dwell time for cyber incidents has fallen significantly. But you should also see that ransomware attacks have gone swifter and more sophisticated. Attackers are moving so quickly and stealthily that organizations run far behind catching inconsistencies before getting locked down.

The reduced time from system penetration to the arrival of ransom demands makes it even more acute that IT teams have a proper plan for responding to incidents swiftly. And the fact is quite loud in healthcare, where HIPAA Journal speaks that at least five of the top 10 data breaches reported in January implicated ransomware.

2. The rising priority of IR for the new insurer mandates in healthcare

Cybersecurity insurance policies can ease the monetary impact of a security incident in healthcare. However, with the rising threat of ransomware and other attacks, insurance firms show less willingness to foot the bill for customers not taking precautions. With the existing condition, either organziations lacking proactive measures will not qualify for the coverage, or they will pay higher premiums.

The outcomes have drawn the attention of finance departments or other higher-level executives who formerly did not have a hand in security. Healthcare IT professionals should uphold their IR plans if they come under the limelight with new stakeholders.

3. The need for governance & security documentation

The speed and rate of change within the healthcare industry also fortifies the need for formal security policies & procedures. Nearly every technology shift, business/service process transformation that healthcare organizations make can impact Incident Response planning.

If an organization switches vendors for its emergency medical record system, there require a clear governance framework. Acquisitions, common in healthcare, portray another area where documented security policies & procedures are significantly important.


For healthcare organizations battling against modern-day cybercriminals, the risks are often high: Having an Incident Response plan right and ready would allow organizations avoid potential disruptions to patient care, private health information and stay away from legal and regulatory penalties.

Incident Response (IR) plans and programs help mitigate the impact of cyber events by allowing healthcare providers to act swiftly and efficiently in the event of a compromise. Many organizations recognize the value of such a program, especially in the healthcare sector.

ValueMentor is a trusted cyber security consultant organization with an impressive and successful track record of security engagements in the healthcare industry. When it comes to security testing, managed detection and response, training and awareness, and compliance with the latest industry regulations, we have been a trusted choice for customers across the globe. To know more about our service offerings and consultation approaches, visit our service pages or talk to our consultant right away.

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