Cybersecurity and EHR: Safeguarding Patient Data in an Age of Digital Threats

August 30, 2023

Healthcare is one of the biggest targets of cybercriminals due to the sensitive nature of healthcare data. Healthcare technologies like EHRs, practice management, and more hold a pool of patient data. Thus, healthcare organizations are particularly vulnerable to attackers and need measures and systems put in place that help them prevent and deal with cyberattacks. This article highlights the most common cybersecurity challenges in healthcare and how cybersecurity can help safeguard patient data.

Cybersecurity Challenges of the Healthcare Industry

There are a variety of reasons why the healthcare industry has emerged as cybercriminals' top target. Some of the top common healthcare cybersecurity threats that need to be addressed in the current digital era include:


The most frequent cybercrime in the healthcare sector is phishing. Users are deceived into disclosing passwords or other pertinent personal information. Emails are the most commonly used venue for this type of cybercrime.

Distributed Denial-of-Service

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are designed to overwhelm a target organization's network with internet traffic to the point that normal operations are disrupted. Hackers flood a network with enormous amounts of data from millions of compromised computers in sophisticated DDoS attacks. Malware or ransomware attacks are often employed in DDoS attacks.

Ransomware Attacks

A ransomware attack infects systems, devices, and files in order to demand a ransom from the victim. Until a ransom has been paid to the hacker, ransomware causes corporate operations to slow down or stop entirely. Untrained staff members may fall into these traps, which can be very time- and money-consuming for a healthcare organization. This time and money could have been better spent by a healthcare organization on raising patient care standards or acquiring new technology.

Data Breaches

Personal health information (PHI) cannot be easily removed or disguised. Once hackers have this information, they can use it to open credit lines, apply for loans, buy drugs, file insurance claims, and more. According to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), healthcare organizations are required to use appropriate data security procedures while gathering and disseminating PHI, which, unfortunately, is not observed by most organizations.

Unauthorized Disclosure

Unauthorized access to or disclosure of PHI is harmful and dangerous. PHI is exposed as a result of providers' and workers' willful and unintentional neglect. While some of these situations are the result of malicious intent, they typically result from carelessness or a lack of adequate cybersecurity procedures.

Safeguarding Patient Data through Cybersecurity

Staff Training

Human error is one of the leading causes of cyberattacks. Thus, the most important thing you need to do is train your staff on how to protect data and respond in a critical situation. Phishing and spoofing are examples of techniques that aim to get beyond your system's security protections by preying on users' lack of security awareness. Through cybersecurity training, employers can make sure that all staff members understand how to protect the organization's systems and data. It keeps them informed about the most typical cyberattack strategies and what they can do to prevent these attacks from succeeding.

Software Updates

Software developers release constant updates to different programs to counter bugs and attacks. Any time you put off installing these updates on your computers, you expose yourself to attacks. Many hackers may search the internet for systems that haven't installed the updates required to close the gaps after reviewing newly published lists of system vulnerabilities. You should ideally enable your system to automatically check for and install system updates. If this isn't possible, create a manual method that checks for updates.

Controlled Access

The majority of attackers enter your system using an authorized user's credentials. Defining each employee's position inside the company should be the first step in implementing system access controls. This data should already be in the human resources department's possession. On the basis of this assumption, you can then grant each employee the system access rights they require in order to perform their duties successfully. Employees who leave the company should have their system access immediately terminated.

Data Recovery

While some hacks only cause disruption, others steal sensitive data. A DDoS attack or malware infection, however, might destroy your data and make it unusable, even if they do not explicitly intend to steal information. Unauthorized data access is much worse than data loss. It can utterly destroy your operations in addition to harming your reputation in the same manner that hackers gaining access to patient data do. If the data in your production systems is rendered permanently unusable, you must have a complex data recovery strategy in place to guarantee that your data is unaltered. Your most crucial systems should, at the very least, be backed up every day and stored in a remote area.


Healthcare has a wealth of data, much of it being patient data. This data is highly valuable to attackers, and thus organizations are constantly at risk of attacks. Healthcare providers must stay up-to-date on cybersecurity trends in order to maintain a secure system that is not vulnerable to attacks. This way, patients can trust their providers and improve practice operations. Healthcare organizations must choose providers that are HIPAA-compliant and have secure software. Talkehr’s EHR system is HIPAA-compliant, making sure patient data is never made vulnerable.