Scary Stories from the Cybersecurity Realm

There are lot of common misconceptions about cybercrime. The biggest one and the most damaging one is thinking that it could never happen to you.

You might think, ‘what reason does anyone have to hack me?’ Here’s one reason to consider—ever think about how valuable your health insurance is? On the black market, those numbers on your insurance card are up to 10 times more valuable than your credit card.

When basic cybersecurity practices are ignored, like keeping software updated and devices secured, it’s an open invitation for hackers. Think about it like this: you secure other valuables—why not your personal information?

No matter where we are—at home, at work, at your next-door neighbor’s or traveling across the world—every person has a role to play in preventing cybercrime, which is just as real a crime as any. When you don’t take it seriously, everyone is at risk. In care delivery settings, that means patients are at risk too.

HIMSS’s health information and technology cybersecurity podcast, Code Red, focuses on cybersecurity challenges facing healthcare today and tomorrow, featuring the voices of the people on the front lines. Here are a few stories covered on the podcast that will remind you about the importance of preventing cybercrime.

Hacktivist Targets Hospital Staff in Complex Patient Care Scenario

Imagine you are pulling another long shift at the hospital when suddenly you receive a threatening message from someone claiming to be associated with a well-known hacktivist group. The message indicates knowledge of a complex legal case regarding a patient or client, accompanied by a list of demands for staff to comply with—and, of course, threats for not complying.

What would you do if you received a message like this? How would you address invalid claims about patient negligence, accompanied by serious threats?

Here’s one story about how a children’s hospital faced a cyberattack that put the entire organization at risk. Listen to the story featured on the HIMSS Code Red podcast.

Why Securing Connected Medical Devices Matters

With chronic disease incidences increasing rapidly, the demand for connected medical devices grows steadily—along with accompanying cyberthreats. These dangers rise significantly in older devices built without security in mind.

“In order for a medical device to provide real value, they need to be connected—more connected than they were in the past,” stated George Gray, chief technology officer and vice president of research and development and guest on a HIMSS Code Red podcast episode, The Battle for Your Connected Medical Device.

Gray shared guidelines based on his own experience working to help protect networked medical devices, emphasizing the need for security to be built into design versus after and the end-user’s accountability. “If you can control one device on the network, you can probably control the network at some point,” Gray said. Listen in to the podcast below to learn more.


Be the Change

The world of health information and technology is evolving and so is HIMSS. Find out what's next for health and be part of the transformation at the HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition.

Register Now


Originally published October 11, 2018, updated April 3, 2019