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Hospital hackings surge, putting patient data and safety at risk

With 1 in 3 Americans impacted by data breaches, modernizing these systems and enhancing cybersecurity measures are essential in protecting patient data.

UK hospital bosses say they may be forced to cut services this winter due to soaring energy prices
UK hospital bosses say they may be forced to cut services this winter due to soaring energy prices - Copyright AFP Frederic J. BROWN
UK hospital bosses say they may be forced to cut services this winter due to soaring energy prices - Copyright AFP Frederic J. BROWN

Cyberattacks on hospital systems are rising, putting patient data —and safety — at risk. Steven McKeon, founder and CEO of MacguyverTech and MacNerd, has explained why he is advocating for more robust efforts to update old technology in our healthcare systems, improve cybersecurity measures and compel governments to get involved.

McKeon was recently interviewed by ABC in the U.S., outlining his take on security concerns.

McKeon focuses on enhancing cybersecurity practices. Unlike traditional approaches, he emphasizes layered security, which deters hackers by increasing the effort needed to breach defences. With the rising cyber threats, his mission is to protect and educate others about security.

One of the reasons for the rise in health sector cybercrime is because the same technology that makes it convenient for patients to request prescription refills, view test results and schedule appointments with physicians has also made it easier for hackers to launch crippling cyberattacks on hospitals and healthcare systems.

“These cyberattacks on our hospital infrastructures here and abroad only highlight the very urgent need for improved cybersecurity in healthcare overall,” states McKeon.

In 2023, the healthcare and public health sector was the most targeted in the United States by ransomware attackers, according to a new FBI report, far surpassing other critical services like transportation and energy.

According to McKeon, cybercriminals launch these very intricate and damaging ransomware attacks to lock up critical computer systems and steal data as a means of extortion.

Why is healthcare such an easy target? McKeon also raises the issue of ageing technology.

“Our company’s experience and its increasing demand to fix outdated technology that is in some cases more than a decade old is quite alarming,” McKeon points out.

“With 1 in 3 Americans impacted by data breaches, modernizing these systems and enhancing cybersecurity measures are essential in protecting patient data and ensuring safety and continuity of care.”

In particular, McKeon thinks, the healthcare system needs help. He recommends this happens in the form of increased federal funding and enforcement of required cybersecurity practices and enhancements.

“Collaborative efforts between governments and the healthcare industries are vital to tackling these threats and securing these systems for the long haul,” McKeon advises.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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