Canada’s Healthcare System and Cybersecurity: Impact Due to COVID-19 

blue and silver stetoscope in hospital

Canada’s healthcare system has faced many challenges over the years.  One of the challenges has been that Canada’s healthcare system and cybersecurity are two things that don’t always get along. The system that was created during a time when there weren’t expensive drugs, tools, or technology, is suffering today. It is trying to keep the front-line services going and can’t afford to spend more than the bare minimum on cybersecurity measures. 

Keep in mind, the system was already prone to cyber-attacksand since the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals and clinics aren’t able to cope with the growing cyber security threats and attacks.   

CBC released a report on how Canadian hospitals are overwhelmed by cyberattacks, which is even more relevant now amid the pandemic. It reports that Canadian hospitals and clinics are not well-equipped with security measures.  

“My biggest disappointment at this moment is that it seems that anything that has to do with the health sector and cybersecurity is falling between the cracks at the federal level,” said Paul-Émile Cloutier, the president and CEO of HealthcareCAN, who spoke with CBC News in early March 

HealthcareCAN held a summit on cybersecurity in 2018 where they discussed several points of cybersecurity vulnerabilities in Canadian healthcare, which are still relevant today. 

Perhaps, it’s time to adjust funding allocations in the healthcare system and put more towards cybersecurity.  

cybersecurity laptop

Important points to keep the healthcare system safe by cybersecurity: 

  1.  Know that all hospitals are at a risk of a cyber attack

    Hospital databases have highly sensitive and confidential information which are seen as a gold mine for hackers. John Riggi, a Senior Advisor on Cybersecurity said it’s not a matter of if, but when you will be breached. This goes to show that, regardless of size or location of the hospital, you must be prepared for and protected against a cyber-attack. Again, since the pandemic, the number of breaches has drastically increased.
  2. Hospitals are ideal targets for hackersThere is a wealth of information and different means by which hackers use healthcare data such as identity theft, ransom, fraudulent bills, or theft of intellectual property.
    • Identity theft: Stealing health card numbers, SIN card numbers, or other medical information to sell on the black market
    • Ransom: Hackers can demand ransom payments if they have hacked into the system and put a halt on the access to digital information
    • Fraudulent bills: hackers can buy medical equipment or drugs for resale
    • Intellectual property theft: hackers can steal information about hospital research or products, then sell this information to competitors
  3. Hospitals can protect themselves by investing in themselvesThere are a few ways hospitals can protect themselves such as spending more on cybersecurity measures, educating employees, and backing up data.
    • The first obvious way is spending more money on cybersecurity. Cybersecurity needs to become a priority for the healthcare system. There have been far too many breach cases in Canada’s hospitals. It is safe to say that more than just the bare minimum needs to be spent to keep the healthcare databases safe.
    • Educating employees is another way that hospitals can protect themselves. Prevention is an important part of the cybersecurity process, and prevention starts with the employees who can detect and stop an attack right away. Use simple language, hold workshops, and provide online resources to educate your employees.

      TCS Forensics provides consultancy and on-site training packages tailored to your company’s needs.
    • Backing up data is an important part of device management and protecting against malware. Backups reduce the chances of potential hackers holding or deleting data.  

Reasons to spend money on cybersecurity safety measures for your company, according to Statistics Canada: 

  1.  Protects sensitive information of the company, employees, or customers 
  2. Prevents fraud and theft 
  3. Protects intellectual property
  4. Comply with laws and regulations
  5. Protects the company’s reputation 

 

References:  Key Takeaways from HealthCareCAN’s Summit on Cyber Security. (2019, July 4). Retrieved from https://www.healthcarecan.ca/2018/03/14/key-takeaways-from-healthcarecans-summit-on-cyber-security/ 
Written by Farah Khan, Writer, Multimedia Content Creator & Digital Marketing Specialist
1 reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Canada’s healthcare system continues to struggle with cybersecurity amid COVID-19 […]

Comments are closed.