News Briefs Archive

Why Your Practice is Probably a Target for Cyber-Criminals

Nov. 7, 2018

Your practice may be more of a target for cyber-criminals than you realize.

“Criminals value medical files because of the amount of exploitable financial and personal information they contain and the growing potential that exists to use the data in a wide variety of fraud schemes,” Andis Robeznieks writes in AMA Wire.

A survey of 1,300 physicians conducted by the AMA and the Accenture consulting firm revealed five key findings that doctors need to know to help safeguard their practices.

More than four out of five physicians have been a victim of some type of cyber-attack, with “phishing” being the most common (55 percent).

Phishing uses sham e-mails to entice recipients to reveal sensitive information—such as passwords—or trigger malware, including ransomware that blocks access to patient records and other vital practice information until an untraceable online payment is made. Nine percent of respondents reported that their practice’s information was held in a ransomware scheme.

The next most common attack involves computers being infected with viruses or malware via a downloaded file.

Cyber-attacks cause operational interruptions. Both electronic health record (EHR) security breaches where patient data was compromised, and interruption of practice operations because EHR access was blocked, were cited by 74 percent of responding physicians as a top cyber-security concern.

One-in-three physicians said their practice experienced a cyber-attack-related business shutdown. Here is how long these physicians’ practice systems were down:

Four hours or less—64 percent.
Five to seven hours—20 percent.
One to two days—12 percent.
More than two days—4 percent.

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