October is cybersecurity month (in reality, every month is cybersecurity month) but this is a good time to review the overall landscape. Cyber criminals are increasingly passing on low-hanging fruit such as credit card data and, like bees to pollen, are irresistibly drawn to swiping personal health records and related data, which can net them 10 times as much money when sold on the dark web. No hospital is 100 percent intrusion-proof, and every one risks resources, reputation and the trust of patients from a breach. Just take a look at the recent headlines, which feature plenty of cautionary stories about fines and other problems that can befall a company or agency that has been the target of a successful cyber-attack.  

Hospitals and health systems understand that it is our moral, legal, and ethical responsibility to uphold the trust shown to us by protecting patients’ information, and more importantly, their safety against cyber threats, with every tool at our disposal. And it’s not just computer systems, but health IT and even medical devices that open our organizations up to potential attacks. That’s why we were pleased that the Food and Drug Administration took an important step this week by making recommendations to the medical device industry on cybersecurity considerations for device design, labeling and documentation for all devices with cybersecurity risk. 

On the hospital and health system side, the AHA has a robust set of resources available to assist members with the task of assessing their cybersecurity risk and taking steps to head off an attack. A key resource is John Riggi, AHA’s senior advisor for cybersecurity and risk. John joined us after a nearly 30-year career with the FBI and is among the nation’s top experts on confronting the health care cybersecurity threat. He offers a wide range of risk advisory services for the field, and is available to answer any questions or concerns you may have about your own cybersecurity environment. Our patients expect no less.