America’s hospital and health systems must be prepared to battle viruses every day – and that includes the malicious malware viruses attacking hospital computers, networks, and connected devices.

While no economic sector is immune from attacks, criminals increasingly seek to infiltrate critical hospital infrastructure and information systems. The hospital and health system field’s treasure trove of financial and personal data makes it a high-value target of cybercriminals.

The AHA and hospital and health system leaders take these cybersecurity challenges seriously because protecting patients and their personal data is a 24-7, year-round responsibility and hospitals and health systems are continuously working to improve the security of their networks through implementing security measures, testing, maintaining back-ups, and deploying the latest upgrades.

But cybersecurity is more than just an IT issue – it requires an organization level risk reduction and response plan, leadership support and board oversight, and vigilance from everyone with access to the network. Getting involved in sharing information opportunities is crucial to staying ahead of emerging cybersecurity risks.

That the issue commands the attention of FBI Director James Comey speaks to its seriousness. Comey will share his perspectives on the cyber threat landscape for health care and prevention strategies when he speaks May 8 at the AHA Annual Membership Meeting.

The AHA has a dedicated cybersecurity webpage that includes many resources for hospital and health system leaders to understand the cybersecurity threats and incorporate cyber risk reduction and response into their strategic priorities. It includes audio and video resources on specific topics, such as what to do when an attack happens, the importance of staff training and ransomware.

Cyber threats will continue, but ongoing vigilance by the health care field and pursuit of bad actors by law enforcement can reduce the risks.