As hospitals become more dependent on technology, the risk of cybersecurity threats grows.

“Because that’s where the money is.”

That’s supposedly what outlaw Willie Sutton said when asked why he robbed banks. If he were alive today, he’d probably be a cyber criminal, and he might be breaching hospitals’ and healthcare systems’ technology.

Because that’s where the data is.

Just ask the National Health Service in England, where a ransomware attack in 2017 resulted in about 33 percent of NHS hospitals being locked out of their IT systems and having to turn away patients. Or DCH Health System in Alabama, which was forced to close its doors to new patients after a ransomware attack in October 2019. In Georgia, 53 breaches have been made public in the last 5 years, affecting more than 2.5 million health records. (All breaches larger than 500 are reported to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.)

Cybersecurity is a challenge for healthcare, for several reasons: The industry is complex, with many older computer systems and third-party devices and vendors. Bare finances can mean prioritizing patient care over protecting against cyber threats, and the push to convert patient information to electronic health records (EHRs) has put further strain on budgets.

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