Rising Cyberattacks Leave India’s Healthcare Industry Vulnerable to Data Breaches and Revenue Loss
India’s healthcare industry is facing a growing threat from cyberattacks, which leave sensitive patient data vulnerable to breaches and can result in significant revenue losses. The rapid digitization and digitalization of the industry, coupled with the increasing volume of data flowing into healthcare systems, has made it a prime target for cybercriminals.
According to a DSCI-Cisco white paper, India experienced 1.39 million cyber incidents in 2022, with the cost of data breaches rising by 6.6 percent. In 2023, these cyberattacks and data breaches resulted in a revenue loss of $2.18 million for Indian organizations, as reported by Ponemon Study. The healthcare sector has been particularly affected, with nearly 7 in 10 organizations experiencing some form of data breach, according to a report by CyberRisk Alliance-Infoblox.
The COVID-19 pandemic served as a tipping point for the healthcare industry in India, accelerating the adoption of technology and digital solutions. With the need to deliver healthcare services remotely and over a wider geographic area, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and ancillary services rapidly embraced technologies such as remote patient monitoring, telehealth, telemedicine, and electronic health records. The use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices also surged, allowing for remote sensing, measurement, and other applications.
The proliferation of IoT devices and the increasing amount of data they generate have made the healthcare industry more vulnerable to cyberattacks. Valuable and sensitive data, including patient health records and payment information, can now be accessed not only through servers but also through interconnected IoT devices. This has created new security threats, with vulnerable IoT databases, unsecured networks, and ease of network intrusion providing avenues for cybercriminals.
The healthcare sector in India has experienced a range of cyberattacks, including ransomware attacks on major institutions like the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Sun Pharma. Data breaches and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks have also been prevalent, with cybercriminals exploiting sensitive patient information or manipulating legitimate users through social engineering.
To address these mounting risks, the Indian healthcare sector must prioritize cybersecurity resilience. It is no longer sufficient to rely on manual overrides during cyberattacks; instead, a comprehensive cybersecurity culture must be adopted throughout the organization. This requires investment in cybersecurity training for all personnel, updates to legacy medical devices and IoT systems running on outdated software, and the adoption of policies promoting cyber hygiene practices.
A zero-trust approach, which prioritizes end-to-end security, is crucial for future-proofing the sector. Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can enable faster detection of malware and targeted threat hunting and simulation. Metrics such as the reduction in the number of incidents, fewer false positives, and shorter mean time to detect and isolate malicious code can be used to evaluate an organization’s cybersecurity health.
Collaboration with government agencies and industry experts is also essential to stay ahead of evolving threats. Healthcare providers and organizations must proactively identify and mitigate vulnerabilities, regularly update security protocols, and emphasize the financial importance of cybersecurity. By prioritizing cyber resilience, the Indian healthcare sector can safeguard the safety of patients and ensure the stability of the economy.
In conclusion, India’s healthcare industry is experiencing a surge in cyberattacks, posing significant risks to patient data and resulting in substantial revenue losses. With the increasing adoption of technology and the rise of IoT devices, the sector must prioritize cybersecurity resilience, adopting a comprehensive organizational approach and leveraging advanced technologies. By doing so, the industry can mitigate risks, protect sensitive information, and ensure the safety and well-being of patients.