WatchGuard Blog

How to improve cybersecurity in the healthcare sector

Over the last two years, the healthcare sector has been the number 1 target for hackers who have attempted to attack health centers or even the health department of an entire country. The industry faces threats such as ransomware that blocks the whole healthcare system, deceptive techniques such as phishing, or breaches of sensitive data. 

MSPs and healthcare centers need to be aligned and act proactively in order to protect themselves from these risks. This strategy enables them to achieve endpoint protection and damage control in the event of a cyberattack. But what steps can be taken to strengthen cybersecurity in the healthcare sector? 

  • Healthcare personnel need to adopt good cybersecurity practices. If the medical staff at healthcare centers receive basic training on how to use secure passwords or how to identify potential threats based on fraudulent messages and social engineering such as phishing; or if the administration incorporates multi-factor authentication (MFA), security will improve significantly in the sector.  

  • Regular backups of all systems are essential. In an industry where there is a huge amount of sensitive data such as patient records or the medical staff's own database, recovering lost data is key. Storing a copy of the data in multiple locations, both in the Cloud and offline, avoids having to pay a ransom to cybercriminals to recover data.  

  • Keeping all devices up to date, both hardware and software. The use of outdated PCs, as well as operating systems and antivirus without the latest updates installed, represent a major cybersecurity breach that hackers could exploit to attack the database. Using advanced devices and managed service providers in the Cloud would make healthcare centers more resilient to these types of threats. Healthcare centers need to deploy an advanced solution that incorporates a strong layer of prevention, detection, and response to potential advanced threats (EDR). If they lack full protection at the endpoint, all other initiatives may fall short. 

Real-life experience 

La Clinique Les Trois Soleils is a prime example of implementing a secure strategy in health centers. When France was in lockdown during the pandemic, the center continued most of its activities on-site and remotely, as the R&D department needed to access the center’s network database off-site, which posed a risk in data protection. Faced with this challenge, the clinic adopted a unified cybersecurity platform incorporating firewalls, Wi-Fi security solutions, and multi-factor authentication (MFA) so that employees could work securely. 

This decision enhanced security thanks to the connection established between the clinic's firewall and the provider's virtual firewall hosted in the data center. The firewall located within the data center is replicated and its inherent security offers an additional guarantee. Thus, data remains physically within the clinic and only remote access is allowed. Moreover, employees who were working from home could easily identify themselves via MFA, not to mention the improved performance level offered by relying on an external data center in terms of streamlining work processes or team meetings. 

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