How to Choose a Cybersecurity Partner: A Guide for Healthcare Executives 

cybersecurity for healthcare - lock icon overlaid on a background of binary code, symbolizing data protection

In 2023, the healthcare industry experienced the highest average cost of data breaches across all sectors, with an estimated cost of $10.93 million per breach. In just one year, between July of 2022 and June of 2023, there were 1,900 ransomware attacks reported in the US, Germany, France and the UK. And that’s just the ones that are reported. (Many attacks go unreported. It is quite common for the ransom to be paid and the business does whatever it can to let that report go unreported in any media.) It’s obvious that cybersecurity is essential in a healthcare setting. Cyberattacks can have a dire impact on patient care, including delayed procedures and increased complications, not to mention that many patients would switch providers if their data was compromised, which is bad for business. The bottom line is that cybersecurity is critical in protecting patient data and in maintaining trust. And that’s why the cybersecurity team at Upstart Cyber has written this article – to guide IT decision-makers in a healthcare setting in selecting a cybersecurity partner.

If you are reading this, you understand that the high sensitivity of patient data calls for stringent protection. You understand the importance of complying with regulations like HIPAA. And nefarious hackers also understand the sensitivity of patient data. That’s why these criminals become ever more sophisticated at innovative schemes and outright attacks using tactics like ransomware and phishing schemes. One such example happened at UVM Health Network back in 2020. The attack started when a clever phishing email tricked an employee into clicking what looked like a harmless little link. This simple click lets the attackers install malware on the network, which quickly spreads throughout UVM’s network. Systems were taken off line. In some cases, staff had to revert to manual processes for patient care. Surgeries and treatments were delayed. The reputational damage was real. All because somebody clicked a harmless looking link.

To prevent future attacks, the UVM Health Network implemented new security measures, including regular phishing simulation exercises and blocking access to personal email on work devices, and enhancing their firewalls and cybersecurity program. No business would ever want to learn these lessons the hard way. That’s why it is so important to select a cybersecurity partner like Upstart Cyber who has relevant experience in the healthcare sector.

How should a business evaluate potential cybersecurity partners? Begin with a look at the team. Ensure you are evaluating cybersecurity companies who have actual experience working with businesses like yours. Ask for client testimonials or referrals to other past or current customers. And review relevant certifications. Finally, assess the potential partners’ tech stack to make sure they have the tools necessary to support you.

A healthcare provider needs a comprehensive cybersecurity partner who can offer the necessary degree of support. When researching options, it is important that the cybersecurity company be able to conduct thorough risk assessments tailored to healthcare. Evaluate the potential partner’s capabilities in incident response or, if this unfortunately happens, disaster recovery. And ensure monitoring and constant support is part of the package. And beyond the tech and expertise, you want a partner who you know can engage collaboratively, who will take the time to understand your specific needs. And you need training and simulation exercises. So often effective cybersecurity comes down to having a trained team who does not add to any increased vulnerability. The potential for human error needs to be considered, understood, and avoided. And remember, your partner needs to have an evolving practice that changes based on how cybercriminals also change. You need a partner committed to continuous improvement.

Be proactive. Take steps now in choosing a cybersecurity partner because planning today means staying out of the headlines tomorrow. A strong cybersecurity partnership with a company like Upstart Cyber is essential to protecting patient data, protecting operational losses, and ensuring the resilience of your services.

About: Upstart Cyber provides cybersecurity solutions in healthcare and a variety of industries. We are vendor agnostic, free to use the best products while concerning ourselves solely with results. As a service business, not a retailer, we’re able to bring cybersecurity expertise without unnecessary upcharges. We provide cybersecurity to a variety of industries including healthcare. Clients always have unique needs and goals and we partner with each client to provide tailored solutions for specific goals.