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Report: Healthcare Most Targeted Industry for Cyber-Crime in 2020

Analysis  |  By Scott Mace  
   January 29, 2021

8 million healthcare records were exposed, and common computer security vulnerabilities grew by 6%.

Healthcare accounted for the largest share of publicly disclosed data breaches in 2020, according to a report recently released by cyber-security firm Tenable.

To reach the conclusion in its 2020 Threat Landscape Retrospective, Tenable analyzed public breach disclosures from January to October 2020 to identify trends in breach data.

In the first 10 months of 2020, Tenable found 730 breach events resulting in over 22 billion records exposed. Tenable divided the data between 11 industry categories to determine which sectors were most affected.

Healthcare and education accounted for the largest share of data breaches analyzed (25% and 13%, respectively). By themselves, healthcare breaches alone accounted for nearly 8 million records exposed. Other frequent targets included computer systems maintained by government (12.5%) and technology (15.5%) companies.

By far, the most popular attack vendor in 2020, especially in healthcare and education, was ransomware. Some 46% of the breaches in those sectors were caused by ransomware attacks. Other leading causes of breaches in healthcare included email compromise (24.6%), insider threats (7.3%), and application misconfiguration (5.6%).

Tenable's analysis found that by the first two weeks of April 2020, 41% of organizations had experienced at least one business-impacting cyberattack resulting from COVID-19 malware or phishing schemes.

Vulnerability analysis shows that 2020 saw an 6% increase in common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs), growing from 17,305 in 2019 to 18,358 in 2020.

"The SolarWinds advisory in mid-December may have been the most alarming of the alerts issued in 2020 by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), but it was hardly the only one," stated the Tenable report. "CISA and other government entities, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Security Agency (NSA), issued several advisories regarding malicious activity from foreign threat actors."

The report details specific CVEs by vendor and by type of exploit. Copies of the report may be downloaded at the Tenable website.

Scott Mace is a contributing writer for HealthLeaders.

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