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Cybercriminals love targeting healthcare organizations for their rich data that sell for high prices on the dark web. In the past two years, cyberattacks on healthcare increased significantly, and those attacks, including ransomware exploits, disrupted more than just business processes. They also endangered patients. An overwhelming majority of hacked organizations report attacks resulting in more extended stays, delayed procedures or tests, data inaccessibility, and other problems resulting in poorer patient outcomes, including increased patient mortality. 

As organizations navigate around and combat these pirates of the digital seas intent on murder and pillage, let's review some of the top challenges along with critical steps to take for success.

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Skill shortages

There aren't enough cybersecurity professionals to meet demand. All organizations lack an adequate workforce to address their needs. Organizations also struggle to upskill their teams to keep pace with escalating threat capabilities and sophistication. Finding trusted partners to assist in education and to fill in critical gaps is crucial. Adopting technologies that automate workflows, policy enforcement, and threat response can multiply workforce effectiveness and improve the response speed.

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Lack of visibility

Few, if any, organizations have achieved complete visibility end-to-end into everything in their networks. Securing invisible endpoints is impossible, and the number of connected endpoints expands exponentially with the adoption of new operational technology (OT), medical devices, and other "smart" technologies (IoT) that are necessary for many aspects of healthcare. Evaluating, selecting, and implementing solutions that provide visibility and security for these growing threat surfaces is vital. 

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Legacy technology

Legacy medical devices, imaging systems, and other mission-critical technologies bound to obsolete operating systems plague healthcare and provide exploitable attack routes. Organizations must leverage techniques and solutions to secure them and monitor and limit their traffic. 

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Employees

Employees, perhaps an organization's most important asset and opportunity, also represent a significant threat. The threat from malicious individuals is overshadowed by negligence or simply inadequate preparedness. Moving toward a Zero Trust posture for people and technology is the only long-term option. Simultaneously, organizations must educate employees to ensure that they understand threat patterns and practice exceptional cyber-hygiene. 

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Business partners and third parties

No organization truly exists on an island, and digital pirates love to spread from one organization to another (sometimes called "island-hopping"). Devastating attacks through organizational supply chains have recently been well-publicized, for example. Leveraging trusted partners to assess these connections and technologies to secure them has never been more critical. Assuming responsibility and risks shifted to the third party proved a failed strategy.

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Develop resiliency and recovery capabilities

Far from a "plan B" strategy, developing cyber-resilience and disaster recovery capabilities must underpin all other efforts. Organizations must develop architectures, skills, and technology capabilities to resolve any attack that overwhelms their defenses. Finding a trusted partner with deep expertise in these areas pays dividends by ensuring the incorporation of industry and cross-industry best practices.

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