Accreditation

Using fear to teach cybersecurity

Briefings on Accreditation and Quality, February 1, 2018

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Hospitals should test staff’s cybersecurity chops by sending them spam emails and seeing who clicks
“Hey it’s Phil, we’re having a problem processing your paycheck. I need you to fill out this form ASAP.”

“Critical Microsoft update, please back up your system now.”

“We’ve detected suspicious activity on your Facebook account and you need to verify your account now before it’s permanently deleted.”

While all the links in these examples are harmless, the ones in real life can be nasty. In 2017, 46% of healthcare cybersecurity breaches were due to “inadvertent actions” by healthcare workers. In other words, someone clicked on a suspicious email or website and infected their hospital system.

Phishing emails and their viruses are used to obtain credit card numbers, usernames, passwords, and (in the case of hospitals) patient records and data. The spread of WannaCry ransomware in 2017 (which hobbled one-fifth of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service) was largely attributed to phishing emails.

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