Theft of Customer Data Is a Growing Risk for U.S. Health Insurers
Researchers Say Health Insurers Are Vulnerable to Cyberattacks.
Because of the increasingly advanced methods used by hackers during the expansion of remote healthcare delivery and the growing digitization of insurance transactions, clinical records, and billing, American health insurers are currently vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks.
Fitch Ratings Inc, an American credit rating agency stated that health insurers and related third parties that are unsuccessful in inventorying and protecting private customer data experience increased financial, reputational, operational, and regulatory risks from cyberattacks.
Health insurers manage large amounts of private information when processing benefit claims or uploading patient data.
These data are protected by federal laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
Various legislation in the U.S., such as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has promoted increased digitization of health records.
Health Insurers Vulnerable to Cyberattacks
The fact that health insurers handle this type of data makes them the perfect victim for ransomware, man-in-the-middle, or phishing attacks. Unfortunately, there is a high chance for malware to be inserted into authentic data with every interaction with a client or third party.
Healthcare provider networks are becoming more and more vulnerable to cyberattacks as more providers and their staff members adopted the work-from-home approach.
Also, personal medical tracking devices frequently don’t have built-in security characteristics to go with the internet access, allowing external access to healthcare and customers’ information.
The improved patient access to care, which could benefit clinical outcomes and minimize insurance costs in the long term is one of the advantages of remote healthcare services.
However, the increased dependence on technology has also enhanced vulnerability to third-party software networks and vendors.
Health providers pay close attention to data protection and spend huge amounts of money in order to keep their private data safe as they acknowledge the importance of identifiable healthcare information to hackers and the consequences of a successful cyberattack.
Nevertheless, as massive breaches that occurred in recent years showed us, insurers’ systems are never fully protected. They remain vulnerable through interactions with external parties such as providers and third-party vendors that may not have the resources they need to protect against sophisticated cyberattacks.
The Healthcare Industry Future
Cybersecurity is a considerable administrative expense and may lower returns given the growing frequency of attacks.
According to some reports, cyberattacks can cost healthcare companies more than $1 million in the recovery process. Also, patient safety depends on the security of a healthcare facility’s network, making cybersecurity a larger consideration than just lost revenue and new expenses for a medical practice.
As per Cybersecurity Ventures, the healthcare industry will spend upwards of $125 billion cumulatively on cybersecurity products and services from 2020-2025.
Key to reducing risks is the identification of gaps in security areas and IT systems where risks to critical assets are highest, including hardware and software on mobile devices, laptops, workstations, and servers.