Written by: Richard Staynings, Chief Security Strategist at Cylera

The need for healthcare bodies and care centres to remain cyber-secure is paramount to safeguarding patient care and safety. The escalating threats of cyber-attacks, coupled with the proliferation of malicious groups worldwide, has led to a concerning rise in cybercrime.  In recent years, the cybercrime industry has risen at an alarming rate, and recent reports predict that the annual, global cost of cybercrime could reach $10.5 trillion by 2025, making it the most profitable criminal enterprise worldwide.  

This mounting danger poses a significant risk to the healthcare industry and continue to amplify as more and more threat actors look to disrupt and profit from healthcare centres and hospitals. This, in tandem with other current strains on the NHS, is putting additional pressure on teams to deliver patient care under the constant intimidation of a cyberattack striking at any time. To counteract this menace, it’s imperative for members of staff to understand how to mitigate cyber risks and respond effectively to potential threats.  

Why Cybersecurity Training is Vital 

Despite the level of technology and innovation used within the cybersecurity sphere, both from an attack and defence perspective, the most substantial risk to healthcare organisations still sits between the ‘keyboard and the chair’. A recent study by Stanford University found that more than four fifths (88%) of all data breaches were caused by human error or mistakes. This alarming statistic underscores the imperative need for comprehensive staff training. Within the healthcare sector, where staff are expertly trained on patient care, but may not have much or any experience in dealing with cloud infrastructure, IoT devices, or cybersecurity practices, the clear and present danger of staff making cyber slip-ups, is exacerbated. 

Elements of Effective Cybersecurity Training 

To give your organisation the best chance at remaining secure online, ensure that cybersecurity awareness and training is delivered regularly and refreshed often, to reflect the changing threat landscape. It should cover: -  

  1. Basic cyber hygiene training – Often basic protections and processes can ward off attackers, who are looking for the path of least resistance. Using strong passwords that are changed regularly, enabling multi-factor authentication and not clicking on unknown links can all strengthen your wall of defence.  
  2. Reinforces proper processes – In a world where new cybersecurity products and solutions are constantly added to the market, it shouldn’t be underestimated how effective processes can be to keeping individuals and organisations secure. All staff members should be aware of any and all online security procedures put in place for managing and using connecting medical devices in order to avoid human errors. 
  3. Cyber and connected device awareness – Many cyber-attacks can be halted at source, but only if people know what they’re looking for. It’s important that employees are trained to recognise the signs of a device that is behaving differently from usual and understand at what point any strange conduct should be reported to the hospital’s IT team. In addition, these employees should be taught the potential dangers of using a compromised device, and what this can mean for the hospital’s wider network. 
  4. Understanding roles within Incident response plan – When cyber-attacks occur, it’s crucial that action is taken as quickly as possible. Fast action helps to minimise disruption and damage to critical systems. However, this requires everyone within the organisation to understand their individual role in the incident response plan, should an attack occur.  
  5. Crisis Simulation Training – Once your employees know their role within the incident response plan, it’s now time to begin testing it. Crisis simulations effectively recreate a practice scenario in which a cyber-incident has occurred, giving staff the opportunity to practice their responsibilities in real time. This is important as it allows management teams to assess employees’ capacity to adhere to their incident response plan.  
  6. Understanding of clean up processes – Each and every connected device needs to be properly maintained. This includes installing any patches or updates, and ensuring each is being properly managed when it comes to cyber hygiene. Staff must understand why this is important and have clear procedures to do so. 

Finally, having total visibility of your entire IT infrastructure through a cybersecurity dashboard, will enable you to better identify and risk assess any device- on-premise or remote - that your workforce has connected to the organisation’s network including shadow IT.  

The number and magnitude of threats facing our healthcare system are vast and grow larger with each passing day. However, there are steps healthcare bodies can take to improve their cyber stature, and it all starts with their people. Your employees are a part of your network, and each person needs your protection just the same as any device or piece of data. Investing in staff training can make the difference. 

Find out more at HETT Show!

Cylera is exhibiting at Hett between 26-27th September at ExCeL London. Come visit us at Booth E30, where we will be demonstrating the capabilities of our cutting-edge cybersecurity platform, designed specifically to help secure medical devices and IoT devices against cyber threats.

About the author  

Richard Staynings, Chief Security Strategist at Cylera 

Richard Staynings is a globally renowned thought leader, author, public speaker, and international luminary for healthcare cybersecurity. He has served on numerous working groups and boards and has helped governments and private providers formulate long term strategies and tactical action plans for improved cybersecurity and patient safety across the industry and across the world.  
Richard serves as Chief Security Strategist for Cylera, a pioneer in the space of medical device and HIoT security. He is also author of Cyber Thoughts, a leading healthcare cybersecurity blog, and teaches postgraduate courses in cybersecurity and health informatics at the University of Denver, University College.   


Register for HETT Show

Join the Community
Get the latest healthtech and digital health news, reports, webinars and offers direct to your inbox.