Bipartisan Bill Presented to Reinforce Cybersecurity in Healthcare and Public Health Sector

Two bipartisan senators introduced a new bill that aspires to enhance the cybersecurity of the healthcare and public health (HPH) industry, in consideration of the current White House alert about the growing danger of Russian cyber threats.

Last week, President Biden and the White House gave a warning regarding the greater danger of Russian cyberattacks on critical infrastructures, such as possible attacks on the HPH field because of the sanctions lately imposed by the United States on Russia caused by the invasion of Ukraine. The warning was dependent on intelligence that the Russian Government is looking for ways for probable cyberattacks.

As stated in the alert, on March 24, 2022, U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) recommended the Healthcare Cybersecurity Act (S.3904). The main aim of the act is to strengthen the venture between the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If passed, CISA needs to work together with the HHS on a selection of cybersecurity steps to better protect the HPH industry against cyberattacks.

In view of the risk of Russian cyberattacks, it is a must to take proactive action to improve the cybersecurity of healthcare and public health organizations, according to Senator Rosen. Hospitals and health centers belong to our critical infrastructure and become more attacked by malicious cyberattacks, which could bring about data breaches, higher costs of patient care, and bad patient health outcomes. This bipartisan bill will enable the strengthening of cybersecurity protections and secure lives.

CISA would need to perform a comprehensive review on particular cybersecurity risks facing the HPH segment, which would entail a review of how cybersecurity risks particularly impact health care assets, an assessment of the difficulties health care assets deal with in protecting updated information systems, and a review of pertinent cybersecurity staff shortages. The bill will furthermore give cybersecurity training for HPH sector workers to increase awareness of cybersecurity challenges and the most efficient ways to offset them.

2021 was notably a bad year for healthcare sector cyberattacks. There were 714 data breaches having 500 and up records reported to the Department of Health and Human Services in 2021. It was the worst year ever for the healthcare industry in terms of data breaches. Nearly 46 million breached records were reported to the HHS in 2021. Data breach reports are now twice the level of 2017 and hacking incidents have gone up every year. Hacking/IT incidents in 2021 were 82% of all reported healthcare data breaches; it was only 41% in 2017.

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Christine Garcia is the staff writer on Calculated HIPAA. Christine has several years experience in writing about healthcare sector issues with a focus on the compliance and cybersecurity issues. Christine has developed in-depth knowledge of HIPAA regulations. You can contact Christine at [email protected]. You can follow Christine on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ChrisCalHIPAA