How Can Healthcare Protect Data Against Ransomware Attacks?

One of the biggest cybersecurity threats is ransomware. For healthcare organizations, it’s no different — particularly since healthcare is one of the most vulnerable to cyberattacks. The chance for cybercriminals to disrupt patient care, slow down life-saving decisions, and steal personal identifiable information (PII), makes healthcare data a prime candidate for ransomware attacks. Therefore, healthcare organizations need to be future-focused, and must utilize immutable backups to protect their data.

 Businesses are working in a fast-paced world that values the speed at which information can be distributed or collected, and healthcare organizations are being pushed to be current with this digital era and provide on-demand healthcare provision. Both patients and healthcare practitioners benefit significantly from the Digital Transformation of an organization. Moreover, this means that healthcare institutions especially need to keep up with the evolving needs for Modern Data Protection and recovery.

Because of the intense change in the digital era, healthcare institutions are experiencing:

  • Growth in data
  • Increase in compliance regulations
  • Rise in data privacy standards
  • High cost in new technology adoption
  • Growth in data security concerns
  • A need for
    7.365 access to data from multiple devices

Healthcare trends

Healthcare is falling behind in data protection at a rapid pace. The Veeam 2022 Data Protection Trends in Healthcare report found that 55% of healthcare organizations had a ransomware attack last year and 36% of that data was unrecoverable. Change and progress need to steadily increase to combat cyberthreats such as ransomware. This can be done through automated, immutable backup solutions and verifiable data recovery.

Only 25% of healthcare organizations would be willing to change their backup solutions due to cost reasons, however, 74% still rely on manual actions to resume during business continuity and disaster recovery. This is problematic for two main reasons: First, relying on manual actions causes a slower reaction time and longer duration to reach productivity; and second, it requires higher costs to hire individuals to manually restore data and leaves more room for error. By changing the backup solutions of healthcare organizations, the cost would significantly decrease and allow for increased protection, faster reaction and more productivity. Healthcare organizations should strive to balance cost-effectiveness and strong data protection.
However, those are not the only problems the healthcare industry faces. Application and data sprawl from new business and clinical applications causes a major concern for the healthcare IT teams as healthcare organizations quickly adopt new technologies to drive transformation. For example, consumerization and mobility pose another significant problem for healthcare IT teams and the data they must protect. The way in which we share and consume data has grown exponentially, causing the demand and the consumption of data to increase rapidly, making all IT teams struggle to keep up.

New Challenges in Healthcare

Healthcare data can be the difference between life and death, which makes security, privacy and protection is even more important to organizations. Because of this, security is one of the main aspects that binds all the issues together within the healthcare industry, and the one that needs to be most proactively dealt with. Security challenges pose a large issue for healthcare organizations. The need for mobile devices by patients, physicians, administrative staff and family members increase the need for data protection. There is always a need for a new operating system upgrade for devices, and with that comes the opportunity for infection.

With the technological world we live in, mobile devices are always increasing in use. There is more data being shared, new applications being released and more mobile apps becoming available to the public. This can increase security threats, especially amongst healthcare organizations. Healthcare data is invaluable to hackers and ransomware attacks. Additionally, the magnitude of devices used in these organizations for patient-monitoring machines, imaging devices and medication scanners with embedded connectivity leave ample pathways for susceptibility to ransomware attacks. Healthcare organizations must also abide by compliance standards and regulations, which makes it more problematic. Infections cause a threat to the data which protects and enables healthcare organizations to provide the best patient care, making it imperative that organizations combat the security crisis.

Healthcare and ransomware

The worst thing a company wants to hear when talking about data recovery is, “I think it works.” Two key objectives of combating ransomware attacks are the assurance that your backups are verifiably recoverable and that the restoration process will be swift and current.

There has been a significant increase in the need to protect data over the past few years. According to the 2022 Data Protection Trends in Healthcare report, healthcare organizations have a 56% data loss tolerance of nothing longer than an hour of downtime. They have also increased the frequency of their “high-priority” data backups from every 8 hours to every 3 hours to ensure that downtime is something close to impossible, and that recovery is always available from the most recent backup.

Veeam is focused not only on restoration and backups, but clean restoration too. Ransomware has become more sophisticated by not only attacking the production data but also the backup data, which causes the data to become compromised, encrypted and locked. There are many safeguards that you can put into practice, but one hyperlink in an email could infect the whole system. We offer protection through Microsoft 365 platforms, as well as a wide variety of systems that are on a vSphere platform. Additionally, Veeam protects Red Hat Virtualization, Nutanix Acropolis and many others. There is a reason that Veeam is a market leader and has over 400,000 customers, globally, and why many organizations in the healthcare vertical trust Veeam for data protection and management services, and that is because Veeam is committed to making sure your data is always 100% verifiably recoverable. Veeam finds where the infection starts and ensures that all backups will be restored in an environment free from malware.

According to the 2022 Data Protection Trends in Healthcare report, 93% of healthcare industry IT leaders stated that there is a “protection gap” between tolerable data loss and the protection of their data. Also stated in the report, 96% of leaders argue that IT cannot meet the service level agreements in an adequate timely manner, causing an “availability gap.” This could cause immeasurable complications for the healthcare industry. The healthcare industry has a significantly higher statistic for the “availability gap” than all other industries studied in the report. From the lack of protection with protection gaps and the increased downtime with ransomware attacks, it is imperative that measures be taken to counteract those downfalls. With Veeam, the solution is immutable backup and protection that you can trust.

Veeam protection

Because of the increase in data and security breaches in the healthcare industry, these organizations must utilize resources around them to protect their data. Veeam provides the tools necessary to protect from and combat ransomware attacks. In the 2022 Ransomware Trends Report (Which polled over 1,000 IT leaders of various organizations, and all of which had experienced a ransomware attack in 2021), it was found that 94% of these ransomware attacks tried to infect the data that was stored in backup repositories. Additionally, 32% of the organizations were unable to recover and access their data even after they paid the ransom. This poses a large problem for organizations and the necessity for immutable backups and data recovery plans. Veeam is the leader in backup, recovery and data management solutions, and helps ensure your healthcare data is recoverable with the 3-2-1-1-0 Rule (the “zip code” of data protection). Three different copies of data to ensure a safe backup, two different media, one off-site copy and one of which is offline, air-gapped or immutable. Finally, zero errors after automated backup testing and recoverability verification. Verifying your backups is a vital asset in data protection because you can’t protect what you can’t see.

Veeam solutions

Veeam has your best interest in mind when it comes to data protection and recovery by:

  • Ensuring all assets are protected with automated reporting
  • Confirming protection jobs are running
    and completed
  • Providing alerts and automatically acting
    when issues are detected

Veeam ensures immutability through backups and flexibility. When striving for a data protection plan, the key differentiator with Veeam is the flexibility and immutability strategy. As times have changed, technology has followed at a remarkable speed. In the past, immutability has been talked about as promised protection at one single point. However, that is not always the case. Veeam follows the approach of “immutability from start to finish.” When you are protecting data, you want to make sure all aspects of your data are secure. Veeam implements this through their trusted immutability plan, which protects data in the Performance Tier, Capacity Tier, and all the way to the Archive Tier. With Veeam, you can implement an immutability strategy, whether this is through Veeam Hardened Repository, which offers protection for on-premises and first-level backups, or S3 Object Lock, which offers protection for cloud object storage. Veeam adjusts the data protection to fit your needs but always ensures that your data will be secure.

Veeam value for healthcare

Veeam has a long history of providing Modern Data Protection to private, public and government healthcare institutions worldwide. Veeam provides assured protection and automated backup, which confirms that every single byte of data is 100% verifiably recoverable. If some data is corrupted, then you will be automatically notified about the infection.

As referenced earlier, very few healthcare institutions change their data protection plan because of cost reasons. Veeam reduces the operating costs and capital requirements for healthcare institutions, which allows for a balance to be created by healthcare institutions between cost-effectiveness and data protection.

In healthcare, immutability is necessary from a protection standpoint as well as a governance, compliance and regulatory perspective. For example, in Australia and New Zealand, the Essential Eight Maturity Model was created, which is a directive that states eight policies and processes you must follow to ensure that you have maturity in managing the risk of your environment. One of the eight policies is a backup that drives immutability.

When it comes to healthcare, it really is a situation of life or death, we want to ensure that the services and data are always readily accessible for the patients and the healthcare professionals. Veeam has protected many healthcare organizations across the world, such as Children’s of Alabama Hospital, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust and many more. You can read more about their experiences by checking out the Veeam Customer Stories.
For more information about healthcare and ransomware, you can watch the webinar linked here:

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