There is an increasing urgency for healthcare organizations to protect themselves against malicious online attacks, otherwise known as crimeware. Crimeware refers to any type of malicious and illegal online activity in which a hacker uses malware, such as spyware, a virus, or an illicit computer program, to gain access to an organization’s data or system.
When not guarded against properly, crimeware has the potential to do serious damage to healthcare organizations that collect protected health information (PHI) from patients. Healthcare organizations that become victims of data breaches not only must face a compromised security system but also potential HIPAA violations that can amount to millions of dollars in fines.
To prevent costly data breaches, healthcare-related businesses would do well to learn more about the different types of crimeware and how to protect against them.
What does crimeware look like?
Hackers can facilitate crimeware in a number of different ways; crimeware doesn’t refer to one specific type of malware or activity.
Crimeware attacks can take place in the following forms:
- Installing keystroke logging software to obtain sensitive data such as username or passwords
- Email phishing attacks with links or attachments that spread malware
- Enabling remote access into system applications so hackers can break into organizations’ networks
- Using bots to remotely control computers
- Installing spyware that collects and sends information regarding users’ browser movements
- Mass-mailing spam
The victims of crimeware are typically users and companies that store confidential data. Healthcare providers have seen an alarming rise in crimeware attacks, especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Consequences of crimeware attacks
Crimeware attacks can have devastating consequences on unsuspecting healthcare organizations. Typically the goal is financial gain. Crimeware attacks can lead to:
- Compromised PHI
- The intrusion of patient privacy
- Data theft
- Financial losses via stolen passwords
- Encrypting data and holding it hostage, then demanding a financial ransom (ransomware)
- System slowdowns, errors in operating systems, and other losses of productivity
- Identity theft
Crimeware attacks can be difficult to detect and prevent. However, there are basic security measures healthcare organizations can implement to reduce their chances of becoming a victim.
How to prevent crimeware attacks
With solutions like Paubox Email Suite Premium, healthcare organizations can stop crimeware attacks in their tracks.
The following Paubox Email Suite Premium features avoid crimeware attacks:
- ExecProtect: Patented protection from display name spoofing attacks in which hackers attempt to impersonate a CEO or other organization leaders to trick employees into compromising sensitive data.
- HIPAA compliant email: Seamlessly send HIPAA compliant emails with zero-step encryption.
- Email DLP: Set your own data loss prevention (DLP) rules to ensure unauthorized data never gets sent or received.
- Inbound email security: Email remains one of the most vulnerable threat vectors for hacking. Paubox keeps employees safe.
Other measures your organization can implement to prevent crimeware include:
- Regularly reviewing the effectiveness of current security policies and procedures
- Reviewing users’ remote access to systems, servers, firewalls, and other external network connections
- Keeping computer systems updated with the latest software patches
- Enforcing a strong password policy
- Training employees to recognize common crimeware attacks
- Enabling two-factor authentication
No matter how well-trained employees are, human error means it’s not always possible to prevent online attacks.
However, using Paubox Email Suite Premium prevents many types of crimeware from ever reaching inboxes in the first place.