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Why is healthcare the top target for cyber attacks?


While small businesses from all industries can be targets of cyber crime, there are industries that prove more appealing to cyber criminals than others. Coming in at number one? Healthcare.
According to a recent study, the healthcare industry is the most vulnerable sector to cyber attacks, making it the sick bay of the cyber security world. Indeed, healthcare providers topped the list of sectors reporting notifiable data breaches to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner in 2023, with incidents rising from 63  in January-June 2023, to in the second half of last year.

How cyber attacks cripple healthcare

So why are healthcare businesses such attractive targets? The diagnosis is mostly that they’re a goldmine of valuable data. 



  • Highly sensitive personal information, like patient records with medical history, allergies, medication, or financial details including Medicare numbers, private health insurance, and credit card details.
  • Valuable information and intellectual property on technology and research.


There are also a number of other factors that compound the problem, such as the critical nature of services delivered by the health sector. Hospitals provide life-saving services, and any disruption to their operations can have devastating consequences.

A ransomware attack could lock down computer systems, making it impossible to access patient records, schedule surgeries, or even operate critical medical equipment. This could lead to delays in treatment, cancelled appointments, and even potential threats to patient safety.

Plus, the healthcare system is increasingly under strain. Healthcare workers are incredibly busy focusing on patient care, while businesses are often trying to manage tight budgets, meaning cyber security is sometimes forgotten about.

This can lead to outdated systems, weak passwords, and a lack of robust security protocols–the perfect prognosis for a cyber attack.

Which healthcare providers are at risk of cyber attack?

The net cast by cyber criminals in the healthcare sector is wide. Hospitals and major medical facilities are prime targets, but attackers don’t discriminate. General practice services, pathologists, research facilities, allied health and aged care providers, vet practices, and other medical service providers are all vulnerable.

And while telehealth and remote access solutions have been handy for convenience and accessibility, they’ve also opened a new door for cyber mischief. The more the health sector relies on these digital tools, the more ways there are for a cyber attack to occur.

The cure for a digital epidemic?

As a healthcare business, you’re likely focussed on keeping your patients healthy—but it’s important to keep your digital systems healthy too. 

According to research, only a third of Australian healthcare organisations embed cyber security awareness and training into their organisational policies and procedures, which further amplifies the vulnerabilities. 


Prevention is better than a cure, so it’s imperative to stay on the front foot with the right skills and training. 

Cyber Wardens training can help equip you and your team with the knowledge and skills to combat cyber threats. In fact, Cyber Wardens training is now accredited by the Australian Medical CPD Standard (AMcpdS) as a CPD hour for medical professionals.

A healthy dose of cyber security awareness can go a long way in protecting patient data, and keep the healthcare industry safe from cyber criminals.

Take 2 minutes to enrol in Cyber Wardens and help fulfil your CPD program requirements at the same time.

Learn easy and simple cyber security tips for your small business


More helpful resources for you and your business

It happened to me!

Have you got a Cyber attack story to share? Your story can help other small businesses protect themselves.

It happened to me!

Have you got a Cyber attack story to share? Your story can help other small businesses protect themselves.