DDoS Protection in the Healthcare Industry: Key Considerations

October 2020

No matter what industry you find yourself in, the fact remains that keeping your data secure and your website up-and-running is important. In the medical industry, however, this is especially vital. Unfortunately, there has been a recent rise in the number of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks carried out against healthcare providers, especially on patient portals that users rely on to receive medical information, schedule appointments, and more.

By having a better understanding of the unique challenges that healthcare organizations face on the web, you can take steps to protect your own business.

Unique Security Challenges for the Healthcare Industry

Health records are protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which was passed and implemented nationwide in 1996. This law requires healthcare organizations to take certain measures to protect their patients’ health records and other sensitive data – imposing serious penalties and fines for organizations that fail to comply.

For this reason, many healthcare organizations rely on dedicated server hosting for all of their patient data and files, which helps them stay in compliance with HIPAA and other laws. Specifically, a dedicated server provides the highest level of security against data breaches and even DDoS attacks.

Are DDoS Attacks on the Rise in Healthcare?

DDoS attacks have been growing in size, scope, and frequency for the past several years. Unfortunately, DDoS attacks in healthcare, specifically, have become increasingly common. In 2017, it was reported that these incidents increased by 13 percent within a year, and medical organizations in the United States alone saw 14 percent more DDoS attacks than those in other countries.

Not only have attacks on healthcare organizations been happening more often, but they’re also taking longer to identify and resolve. One report found that it took about 50 percent of affected medical establishments more than three hours to detect the attack, plus another three hours to respond, on average.

Why is this such a problem? For starters, these incidents are causing downtime for patient portals, which are accessed through a healthcare organization’s website. Patients use these portals to review lab results, schedule appointments, and even send secure messages to medical staff (such as nurses and doctors).

When DDoS attacks take healthcare portals down, the results can be devastating. Patients may be unable to access important information, and the reputation of the medical organization will likely be compromised. Individuals may also worry that their data or health records have been compromised, which may drive them to find another provider.

Protective Measures That Your Healthcare Organization Can Take

With the size of DDoS attacks growing at an alarming rate, there’s no way to guarantee that your organization will never be affected by one. Still, there are measures you can take to improve security against a hospital DDoS attack or similar breach. Start by making sure you’re using a dedicated server to host your healthcare website. From there, implement practical security protocols like using strong passwords and opting for additional DDoS protection.

For more information about DDoS protection, cybersecurity best practices, or setting up a dedicated server account, contact ReliableSite today!