Safeguarding Patient Data: Key Healthcare Cybersecurity Statistics in 2023

In the contemporary digital era, cybersecurity has emerged as a paramount concern across various sectors, particularly in healthcare. The growing digitization of patient records, expansion of telehealth services, and adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) devices in medical facilities expose healthcare organizations to numerous cybersecurity challenges. As we venture into 2023, let us examine the essential healthcare cybersecurity statistics and trends that emphasize the significance of safeguarding patient data.

Healthcare Cybersecurity

Escalating Cybersecurity Concerns in Healthcare:

  • Healthcare organizations have become prime targets for cyberattacks. A report by Cybersecurity Ventures reveals that global healthcare cybersecurity expenditure is expected to reach $125 billion in 2023, signifying the mounting concern and investment in this domain.
  • Ransomware assaults persist as a substantial risk to the healthcare sector. In 2022, healthcare institutions witnessed a steep increase in ransomware attacks, with a 125% spike compared to the preceding year, as disclosed by Cybersecurity Insiders.
  • Insider threats continue to pose a notable challenge in healthcare cybersecurity. A survey by the Ponemon Institute discovered that 59% of healthcare organizations encountered an insider-related security breach in 2022, primarily due to human error.

Ramifications of Healthcare Cybersecurity Violations:

  • Healthcare data breaches can result in dire consequences, both financially and concerning patient safety. IBM Security estimates the average cost of a healthcare data breach at $10.3 million, covering investigation, response, and possible legal and regulatory penalties.
  • Patient safety is jeopardized in the event of a cybersecurity infringement. Cyberattacks aimed at medical equipment and critical infrastructure can impede patient care, breach patient privacy, and even pose a life-threatening risk. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported that data breaches in the healthcare sector affected over 28 million individuals in 2022.
  • Healthcare organizations also confront reputational damage following a cybersecurity breach. The security of personal health information is crucial for maintaining patient trust and confidence, with a breach leading to a tarnished reputation and potential business loss.
AI Healthcare Cybersecurity

Emerging Healthcare Cybersecurity Trends:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are progressively employed in healthcare cybersecurity to identify and counter cyber threats. AI and ML can scrutinize vast data sets, recognize patterns, and detect anomalies in real time, allowing healthcare organizations to proactively reduce cybersecurity risks.
  • Cloud-based solutions are on the rise in healthcare, providing improved scalability and accessibility. However, safeguarding sensitive patient data in the cloud remains a pressing concern. A McAfee report states that 75% of healthcare organizations are worried about cloud data security, with 40% experiencing a security incident in the cloud in 2022.
  • Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) is gaining momentum in healthcare cybersecurity. ZTA is a security framework that authenticates every user and device seeking network access, irrespective of their location, before granting access. This method minimizes unauthorized access risks and aids in protecting patient data.
Healthcare cybersecurity best practices

Healthcare Cybersecurity Best Practices:

  • Routinely update and patch software and systems to address known vulnerabilities.
  • Employ multi-factor authentication (MFA) to enhance the security of user accounts.
  • Deliver continuous cybersecurity awareness training to staff members, educating them on risks and best practices.
  • Formulate and execute an incident response plan to efficiently handle cybersecurity incidents and minimize the impact.
  • Regularly monitor and audit network and system activities to detect and respond to any suspicious behavior.

In conclusion, healthcare cybersecurity remains a crucial concern in 2023, given the rising threats and repercussions of cyberattacks. Healthcare organizations must prioritize cybersecurity measures to safeguard patient data, ensure patient safety, and maintain trust.

Don’t Leave Your Healthcare Organization Vulnerable – Act Now!

Ensure your healthcare organization is protected from cyber threats. Take advantage of our FREE Security Assessment conducted by our in-house cybersecurity experts. Gain valuable insights, identify vulnerabilities, and bolster your defenses against cyberattacks.

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Together, let’s safeguard your patient data, maintain trust, and promote a secure healthcare environment.


What is HIPAA Cybersecurity?

HIPAA Compliant Shield

What is HIPAA?

HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a law that was enacted in 1996 to protect patients’ medical records. The goal of HIPAA is to ensure that individuals can move from one health plan to another without having to worry about losing access to their medical records or having them stolen by hackers.
HIPAA covers four main areas:

  • Privacy – Individuals must have control over their personal information, including who gets access and how it’s used.
  • Security – Organizations must take steps to safeguard sensitive data from unauthorized disclosure or theft (which includes encryption).
  • Breach Notification – When there’s been any kind of breach involving protected health information (PHI), organizations are required by law to notify affected individuals within 60 days after discovery of said breach–and they must also report incidents internally so they don’t happen again!

How are Violations Decided?

The tiers are as follows:

  • Tier 1 – $100-$50,000 in fines and penalties
  • Tier 2 – $50,000-$1 million in fines and penalties
  • Tier 3 – $1 million+ in fines and penalties.

Penalty Tiers

The penalty tiers are determined by the level of culpability and the minimum penalty per violation. The maximum penalty per violation is also listed, along with an annual penalty limit.

  • Level I (Lowest)
  • Minimum Penalty: $100-$50,000 per violation
  • Maximum Penalty: $1,500-$55 million per year in aggregate fines/penalties (for multiple violations)
Employee training illustration

What Can We Do to Stop It?

While the fines are steep, they’re not impossible to pay. If you’re currently struggling with a lack of staff or resources, there are steps you can take to ensure your practice is compliant with HIPAA regulations.

  • Create a HIPAA booklet: A lot of people think that if they have their employee handbook in place and it has all the right information about what’s expected from employees and how they should behave at work, then everything else will follow suit automatically. But this isn’t true–you also need specific policies regarding electronic medical records (EMRs) usage and security measures that go beyond what is outlined in general employment policies. In fact, even if you do have an EMR policy in place now but haven’t updated it recently (or ever), creating one now would be beneficial because many new laws have been passed since then which may apply specifically to your practice’s situation.
  • Complete a Risk Assessment: This involves analyzing every aspect of how information flows through your organization–from patient intake forms through billing processes–and determining which areas could cause problems if left unchecked.
  • Ensure You Have The Staff And Team Required To Manage Your Practice: There are certain tasks related to keeping up-to-date with regulations such as completing annual reports on time; ensuring compliance with state laws; monitoring quality assurance programs; ensuring proper disposal procedures are followed etc..
  • Tracking Remediation Items: It’s essential to keep track of your remediation items and have a system in place for addressing them. Regularly monitoring progress and ensuring that all necessary steps are taken to rectify identified issues will help prevent future violations.

The Importance of Employee Training

One of the key aspects of HIPAA compliance is ensuring that your employees are well-trained and understand the importance of protecting patient information. Regular training sessions should be held to keep staff up-to-date with the latest regulations and best practices for handling sensitive data.

Key steps to protect patient data

Cybersecurity Best Practices

In addition to employee training and having a strong HIPAA compliance program in place, it’s crucial to implement cybersecurity best practices to safeguard your organization’s data. Here are some steps you can take to protect your healthcare institution from cyber threats:

  1. Secure your network: Implement firewalls and other security measures to protect your network from unauthorized access.
  2. Use strong passwords: Encourage employees to use strong, unique passwords for all systems that contain sensitive information.
  3. Keep software up-to-date: Regularly update all software, including operating systems and antivirus programs, to protect against known vulnerabilities.
  4. Implement multi-factor authentication: Require employees to use multiple forms of identification when accessing sensitive systems.
  5. Regularly monitor and audit your systems: Regularly review access logs and other system records to identify potential security threats and address them before they become major issues.

HIPAA fines can be extremely costly for healthcare organizations, but by following the guidelines outlined above and investing in proper security measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of violations. Remember to regularly assess your organization’s compliance with HIPAA regulations, provide ongoing employee training, and implement cybersecurity best practices to safeguard your patients’ sensitive information and maintain a secure healthcare environment.

🎧 Ready to dive deeper? Listen to our Tech for Business podcast episode “Can you afford $100,000 in HIPAA fines?” to learn more about the importance of HIPAA compliance and how to protect your organization from costly violations. Click the link below to access the episode and gain valuable insights from our compliance experts!

🎙️ Listen to the Podcast Episode Here


The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) website provides detailed information about HIPAA, including the specific regulations and penalties associated with violations:

The HIPAA Journal is an online resource for healthcare providers and organizations, offering news and analysis on HIPAA compliance, data breaches, and other related topics:

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides guidelines and best practices for cybersecurity, including recommendations for protecting electronic medical records:

Can HIPAA Information Be Emailed?

Women standing with a laptop near a server room.

Can HIPAA Information Be Emailed?

According to the CDC: “while the HIPAA Privacy Rule safeguards protected health information (PHI), the Security Rule protects a subset of information covered by the Privacy Rule. This subset is all individually identifiable health information a covered entity creates, receives, maintains, or transmits in electronic form. This information is called ‘electronic protected health information (e-PHI).”

In order to comply with the HIPAA Security Rule you must:

  • Ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all electronic protected health information
  • Detect and safeguard against anticipated threats to the security of the information
  • Protect against anticipated impermissible uses or disclosures
  • Certify compliance

But what does this mean for those working in the healthcare industry emailing HIPAA information? Let’s start with why email communications should be secure first:

Understanding how cybersecurity and email are connected begins with a breakdown of the path that an email follows. Email follows the following path:

  1. Created by sender on their workstation
  2. Sent from workstation to sender’s email server
  3. Sender’s email server sends email to recipient’s email server
  4. Recipient’s workstation pulls the message from their server

Every time the email is sent it could be at risk for malicious interference. In addition, a copy of the email is stored on each workstation it travels through. Breaking that down, that means there’s a copy on:

  • The sender’s workstation
  • The sender’s email server
  • The recipient’s email server
  • The recipient’s workstation 1

This path alone illustrates the risk a single email can pose – both in transit and at rest. So can emails be HIPAA compliant?

Emails can be HIPAA compliant, but requires IT resources and a monitoring process to ensure that authorized users are communicating PHI in adherence with policies for HIPAA compliance for email.2

What IT resources and monitoring processes are available? Beyond our in-house security solution, we also recommend email encryption.

Encrypted Email

Encryption is a way to make data unreadable at rest and during transmission. CIT partners with Zix for email encryption and they partner with more than 1,200 U.S. hospitals to help maintain HIPAA compliance. As cyberattacks continue to grow exponentially, Zix provides you with efficient methods to optimize your IT security effectiveness while better securing PHI in and out of their organization.

To learn more check out A Case for Email Encryption.

So now that we’ve talked about the path of an email, HIPAA compliance, and our recommended solutions we want to make sure all types of emails are secure.

What different kinds of emails need to be secure?

In the healthcare industry, it is important to avoid security risks, meet compliance standards, and secure multiple types of emails. Cybersecurity and compliance solutions should include securing:

  • In-office emails
  • Doctor-to-doctor emails
  • Personal emails
  • Mass emails 
  • Reply emails
  • Patient emails

Additional email security considerations

Start with a HIPAA Compliance Checklist or learn more about a Cybersecurity Gap Analysis for your business. Want to chat with one of our experts? Contact us here.