Are Passwords Keeping Your Data Secure?
by Muthu Krishnan
In 2023, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recorded 327 data breaches, marking a 104% jump from just 160 in mid-2022. These breaches weren't minor; on average, each one exposed 150,809 health records, jeopardizing the data of over 30 million Americans.
These data breaches came with a hefty $10.93 million price tag — far surpassing the industry's previous $4.45 million average. Over three years, the cost associated with cybersecurity threats surged by 53%, with recovery expenses for healthcare organizations jumping from $1.85M to $2.20M in just a year. While many focus on advanced firewalls and encryption tools, an often-underestimated vulnerability lies in password protection.And, as the data suggests, the stakes have never been higher.
Going ahead, we'll spotlight the passwords that often fall prey to hackers and debunk the myths that mislead many about password defense.
Data leaks in healthcare have far-reaching and grave consequences. A single password breach can expose vast amounts of protective health information (PHI), opening doors to identity theft and fraud. In addition, from a revenue cycle perspective, password breaches can also cause:
Billing Errors and Fraud
The aftermath is not just the immediate financial hit; there are added costs from mitigation efforts, legal battles, and potential non-compliance penalties, like those from HIPAA.
Breach of Trust
Patients entrust providers with personal data. A leak could shatter this trust, impacting patient retention. Moreover, stakeholders might question the organization's risk management capabilities.
System Downtime Challenges
Downtime disrupts vital revenue cycle management (RCM) processes, leading to revenue leakage and a slowdown of cash collection.
Beyond hefty fines for non-compliance, organizations might face lawsuits from affected parties, adding to financial burdens.
Given these challenges, it is no wonder healthcare requires on robust data safety standards like HIPAA, ISO/IEC 27001, SOC2+, HITRUST and other standards for information security. Given the rising cyber threats, prioritizing data protection is essential. This goes beyond just stronger passwords; it is about fostering security awareness.
Our online presence and sensitive data hinge on the strength of the passwords we set. But are these digital barriers truly robust? In an era dominated by AI (Artificial Intelligence), hackers are armed with formidable tools. Shockingly, AI can hack 51% of common passwords in under a minute!
The Top 10 Most Hacked Passwords
In fact, a cybersecurity firm analyzed more than 18 million passwords worldwide and found that 50% of the most common passwords in the U.S. are also among the most hacked passwords.
As cyber threats grow more advanced, we need to take a hard look at our password habits. So, where should we begin? Let's tackle and dispel some common myths that might be holding us back when it comes to password security.
Many of us rely on long-standing beliefs about what makes a password secure, but are these beliefs rooted in fact or fiction? Let's dive into some of the most common myths surrounding password protection and uncover the truths that can help us fortify our digital defenses.
While length can add complexity, a long password made up of predictable sequences or frequently used words isn't necessarily secure. It's the combination of length and randomness that makes a password strong.
70% of people admit they use the same password for more than one account, which makes them especially vulnerable to hacking methods like credential stuffing. Cybercriminals exploit reused passwords across multiple accounts. In fact, 76% of the attacks found in 2022 were credential harvesting, which is still the number one cause of breaches.
Continually changing passwords can be beneficial, but if the new passwords are predictable or based on slight variations of the old one, the security benefit is minimal. Using a robust, distinct password for every online platform or service reduces the chance of one security breach jeopardizing all your accounts. This strategy means that a breach in one account does not endanger others, safeguarding patient data and minimizing the threat of identity theft in healthcare settings.
While special characters can enhance password strength, the unpredictability of sequences and the use of a mix of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols are equally crucial.
"While creating strong and unique passwords and regularly changing them is critical, passwords must be considered a first line, not the only line, of defense,” says Don Boxley, CEO and Co-Founder of DH2i. A strong password is a foundational step, but true security requires a multi-layered approach, including multi-factor authentication, secure networks, and regular security audits.
While many password managers offer robust security, not all are created equal. It is essential to choose reputable password managers with strong encryption and a good track record.
While passwords are essential for cybersecurity, they're just one facet of a broader digital protection strategy. Truly secure healthcare data management requires both robust passwords and solid software safeguards.
“The data explosion we have seen in the past decade or so is only going to increase. As we keep this data safe and secure, it can be used to bring about much good, including for RCM,” says Muthu Krishnan, Chief Technology Officer at WhiteSpace Health. The WhiteSpace Health Cloud, hosted on Microsoft Azure, boasts top-tier encryption, safeguarding data both at rest and during transit, even employing double encryption for added security. The WhiteSpace Health Platform has earned SOC2+ accreditation and it ensures:
By integrating diverse data sources, from EMRs to financial systems, into a unified health data warehouse, our AI-driven platform offers unparalleled insights. This comprehensive approach empowers you to make data-driven decisions that positively influence your bottom line, without worrying about data security. To truly harness your healthcare data without security concerns, you need a platform that blends advanced encryption with healthcare insights. See how WhiteSpace Health can guide you on this path.
About Muthu Krishnan