The healthcare sector is particularly vulnerable to phishing attacks, according to Mike Azzara at Mimecast. Employees in the healthcare industry need to be wary of brand impersonation attacks designed to steal credentials or hijack payments.

“As employees get smarter about spotting common cyberattacks, hackers keep getting more creative,” Azzara says. “One of the more sophisticated types of attacks is brand impersonation, in which attackers pretend to be a well-known brand in an effort to get a user’s passwords, obtain sensitive information or install malware. Healthcare organizations face a far higher brand impersonation threat than other industries due to the combination of overworked staff, shifting IT priorities and an abundance of partners that can easily be impersonated.”

Azzara explains that IT employees at healthcare organizations are often more focused on keeping systems running, which can lead them to place less of an emphasis on cybersecurity.

“It’s common for IT teams at hospitals and health systems to focus on the knowledge base necessary for 24/7 operation of mission-critical systems such as telemetry, electronic health records and remote monitoring,” Azzara writes. “This can lead to gaps in security training among IT teams, which translates to gaps in training for the rest of the staff.”

Additionally, healthcare organizations must deal with a variety of third parties that can be easily impersonated by cybercriminals.

“Healthcare has a complex supply chain,” Azzara says. “Third-party vendors may supply everything from food and laundry to basic medical equipment to multimillion-dollar equipment for operating rooms. Individuals across the organization interact with these vendors every day. In their fast-paced work, they may not notice a slight change to a domain name, corporate logo or ‘Reply To’ address.”

Azzara adds that hospitals communicate with many other healthcare organizations, which further exposes them to phishing attacks.

“Hospitals and health systems share information with a wide range of other healthcare entities, including insurers, pharmacies and public health agencies,” Azzara says. “The need and desire to share sensitive information in a timely manner, combined with a heavy reliance on email communication, only adds to the degree of potential mistakes for attackers to exploit.”

New-school security awareness training can give your organization an essential layer of defense by enabling your employees to recognize phishing attacks.