What are the Biggest Cyber Threats in Healthcare?

biggest cyber threats in healthcare

The healthcare industry grows more vulnerable to cyber threats as the world goes digital. Digital health records and digital systems have made healthcare a goldmine of valuable data for cyber criminals. Whether it is personal medical histories or operational details critical to patient care, healthcare organizations store sensitive data that attackers are eager to exploit. Here are some statistics to emphasize on the seriousness of cyber threats that you might not be aware of:

  • 61% healthcare organizations reported a moderate or substantial impact on healthcare delivery due to cyber incidents 
  • 43% of healthcare organizations had to bear $100,000 – $1 million financial costs to recover 
  • 26% of healthcare organizations ended up paying ransomware even after government authorities 
  • 62% of healthcare organizations are very concerned about cyber-attacks on their systems  

However, healthcare organizations need to take extra measures to protect their information and resources. This is so because healthcare organizations have the private health information of many patients. By partnering with a cyber security consulting service provider can minimize the risk of cyber-attacks that can lead to huge financial, legal and reputational costs. Here are some of the major cyber threats to look out for:

Data breaches remain one of the biggest cyber threats for healthcare organizations. With threat actors gaining access to sensitive patient information through multiple attack vectors such as phishing, compromised credentials and even misconfigured cloud environments, healthcare organizations continue to bear the cost. In fact, as of 2023 Cost of Data Breach Report, the average cost of data breach for healthcare organizations is $10.93 million which is way higher than the industry average $4.45 million. Moreover, there has been a 53.3% cost increase over the last 3 years. The reason is simple: personal health information is more valuable on the black market than credit card credentials or regular personally identifiable information. View the table below to see the significant difference of the price of sensitive data on the black market:

Price of Data 


Credit Card/Personal Information 


Personal Health Information (PHI) 


Insider Threats

The healthcare industry faces significant threats from internal factors or insider threats. These threats can come from organization employees, contractors, and third-party vendors. Employees motivated by personal political gain may be inclined to compromise sensitive data. Moreover, external agents can pose as inside employees or contractors to gain access to information. These threats can result in data breaches, system disruptions and financial loss.

Phishing and Social Engineering

Phishing is a social engineering method in which an individual or organization tries to deceive another person to enter confidential information for malicious purposes through communication such as mail or text. With AI and other technologies, phishing attacks are becoming hard to distinguish, resulting in higher data breaches in healthcare. In fact, as of 2023 Cost of Data Breach Report, phishing is the top initial attack vector reporting for 16% of data breaches in healthcare sector. Examples of this are pretexting where an attacker pretends to be an authorized authority or service provider and baiting where the attacker places a malware infected device in a public place to be picked by the victim. Usually, healthcare staff members are manipulated into giving their access to devices and networks. It can be prevented by partnering with a cybersecurity consulting services provider to educate employees and putting in a security framework in place.


Ransomware attacks happen when hackers infiltrate organizations network through various and once inside, the hacker deploys the ransomware that effectively makes all the patient records, medical files, and administrative records inaccessible by the organization. The hackers then make threats to the organization into paying them their ransom to regain access.

Why are these attacks becoming a threat for healthcare organizations globally?

1. 26% healthcare organizations globally pay ransomware payments

2. Only 1 in 3 internal teams can identify a data breach in case of ransomware

3. Ransomware attacks cost on an average of $5.23 million dollars to organizations

All these numbers showcase how tackling ransomware is becoming a daunting task for healthcare organizations. To bring down these numbers and to make sure that your organization does not become a part of these numbers, consider investing in cybersecurity consulting services.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks

DDoS attack is a form of computer hacking that utilizes internet traffic to induce a large amount of traffic to a particular target to make such machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users. Similarly, several endpoints and the IoT devices are manipulated to install malware into the network to conduct a coordinated DDoS attack. 

Ransomware attacks have the dangerous effects of data exfiltration, but DDoS attacks cause operational disruptions without compromising a targeted network to achieve the same level of disturbance and can be more easily deployed at a larger scale. Infact, 40% of healthcare organizations globally had to pay recovery cost due to operational downtime in 2023. The objective of the DDoS attack is to cripple a healthcare facility and cease the attack only if an agreed amount of money is deposited in the attackers’ bank account.

Med Jacking

Med jacking is the process of hijacking medical devices such as health monitoring devices like pacemakers, wearables, and stationary devices, which are all connected to the internet. The main aim of hackers to do Med jacking is to steal sensitive patient information from medical devices. Unpatched systems, security updates and vulnerabilities in medical devices cause such device compromises which can even impact patient life.

The consequences of Med jacking can be very detrimental to healthcare firms if they do not employ cybersecurity consulting services. It is in direct violation of the MDR and IVDR regulations, and the organizations can be subject to financial and legal penalties. Following are the medical devices which are most susceptible to attack-

  • Infusion and Insulin Pumps: Medical professionals remotely manage and administer blood, saline, and other medical fluids with IoT-controlled infusion and insulin pumps. Hackers can exploit the connectivity capabilities that link drug delivery systems and medical records. 
  • Smart Pens: The smart pens store a trove of patient data stored, they are an attractive target that cybercriminals could easily exploit and enter patient medical database.  
  • Implantable Cardiac Devices: Technological advancement has brought implantable cardiac medical devices, including pacemakers and the devices used to program them. A DDoS denial-of-service attack against a pacemaker has the potential to kill. 
  • Wireless Vital Monitors: They can transmit heart rate, blood sugar, and other vital information to the doctor and patient and monitor patient health. It is important to encrypt this network to protect against cyber attacks.

With all these challenges investing in cybersecurity becomes critical becomes critical more than ever. Hospitals that are still not considering cybersecurity measures, might be putting themselves at the risk of cyber-attacks. By detecting threats before they become breaches, they can improve their security posture as well as maintain the trust in patients. But investing in firewall won’t save you from cyber threats, you need a partner who can help you build a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. 

With PeoplActive, you can say goodbye to cyber threats. With proven solutions and years of experience in healthcare cybersecurity consulting, threat actors can only dream of infiltrating your healthcare organization. Learn more about cybersecurity consulting services and how we add the pro in your active cybersecurity measures.

Want to Secure Your Hospitals From Such Cyber Threats?

Get in touch