The recent wave of cyber attacks on major health care providers in Oklahoma has raised concerns about the security and integrity of health care services in the state. With the increasing virtualization of health care and the profitability of health cybercrime, experts believe that these attacks will continue to rise in both frequency and severity.
According to recent data, cyber breaches targeting health care systems have more than doubled since 2018. This increase can be attributed to the vulnerability and profitability of these systems as targets for cyber criminals. Health systems are considered critical infrastructure, and a cyber attack that compromises patient data can have life-threatening consequences. In the face of such attacks, health systems often opt to pay significant ransoms to quickly restore services and mitigate legal liability.
Moreover, the stolen patient data is highly valuable on the dark web, providing further incentive for hackers to target health care systems. This troubling trend has left many Oklahomans questioning the safety of their personal health information and the security of the systems that store and manage it.
Amid these challenges, the city of Tulsa has emerged as a leader in cybersecurity and virtual health innovation. The city’s proactive approach to addressing these vulnerabilities is crucial in the face of increasing cyber threats to health care systems nationwide.
As the health care industry moves towards delivering more care in patients’ homes, virtual health innovations are becoming more prevalent. These innovations include technologies such as smart glucometers that provide real-time patient data to doctors and AI-powered cameras that help prevent falls in assisted living facilities. While these technologies hold the promise of improving care quality and access for millions of patients, they also expand the so-called “attack surface” for cyber criminals.
Tulsa Innovation Labs (TIL) has been at the forefront of efforts to address these challenges. The organization has been instrumental in fostering cybersecurity and virtual health talent development in the city. Additionally, Tulsa is home to one of the nation’s top cybersecurity programs at the University of Tulsa, and significant investment has been made to launch the Oklahoma Cyber Innovation Institute (OCII) to innovate cyber solutions for critical infrastructure, including health care.
To further grow the local cybersecurity talent pool, programs like the Cyber Skills Center (CSC) have been established to provide adult career-switchers with the opportunity to undergo a 24-week cybersecurity program. This initiative aims to address the need for skilled professionals in the cybersecurity field and equip individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge to protect critical health care systems.
The Oklahoma state government has also recognized the importance of securing health care systems as a driver of business development. Attorney General Gentner Drummond’s office has been working to modernize Oklahoma’s cybersecurity laws to provide improved consumer protection and public safety.
In conclusion, Oklahoma’s health care systems continue to face escalating cyber threats, posing risks to the safety and security of patient data. Despite these challenges, the proactive efforts of organizations like TIL, along with the collaboration between educational institutions, the state government, and the private sector, are working to turn the vulnerability of health care systems into a source of strength and innovation for the state. By investing in cybersecurity and virtual health innovations, Oklahoma is positioning itself to lead the way in safeguarding health care systems and protecting the well-being of its residents.