Senate report reveals healthcare industry vulnerable to cyber attacks

"Unfortunately, the health care sector is uniquely vulnerable to cyberattacks."
Cyber crime

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., on Thursday released a report outlining cyber vulnerabilities in the healthcare industry and making recommendations for government aid to address the issue.

"The health care sector is vulnerable to cyberattacks for a number of reasons, including its reliance on legacy technology, a wide and highly varied attack surface (that only grows more complex from the ever-increasing number of connected devices), a high-pressure environment where even the slightest delay can have life-or-death consequences, funding constraints, and an outdated mode of thinking that views cybersecurity as a secondary or tertiary concern," the report begins.

The Virginia Democrat highlighted the strong financial incentives for cybercriminals, noting "[p]ersonal health information is more valuable on the black market than even credit card information, as hackers can sell stolen medical records for anywhere from $10 to $1,000 per record."

Warner's main recommendations focused on overhauling federal cybersecurity leadership and fostering closer partnerships with the private sector healthcare industry to combat cyber criminal efforts. He also suggested modernizing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a federal law that protects the privacy of personal medical records, to reflect developing cyber concerns.

"Unfortunately, the health care sector is uniquely vulnerable to cyberattacks and the transition to better cybersecurity has been painfully slow and inadequate," Warner concluded. "The federal government and the health sector must find a balanced approach to meet the dire threats, as partners with shared responsibilities."