India's Health Systems Are A Top Target

India ranks second globally in cyber attacks on health systems. The government is currently promoting digitisation across the economy, although the country does not yet have specific data protection laws. As they work towards becoming Digital India, such cyber attacks causing growing concern. 

Now, a report by Artificial Intelligence company CloudSEK has found that the health sector’s speedy transition to technology due to Covid-19 has left many vulnerabilities.

The United States recorded the highest number of cyber attacks and breaches in healthcare in 2021, at 28 percent, due to heavy digitisation, and huge investments and growth opportunities in the sector that makes it a lucrative target for hackers

  • India ranked second in cyber attacks on the healthcare sector to a CloudSEK, an AI that specializes in  predicting cyber threats.
  • France ranked third in the world for the number of attacks on the healthcare industry, accounting for seven percent of all attacks. 
  • According to the report, the overall number of cyber attacks against healthcare has increased by 95.34 percent in the first four months of 2022, as compared to the number of cyber attacks in 2021.

The Indian government has been creating digital health account numbers of citizens under the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, which aims to digitise the health records of all patients. It has been reported that of the 23 million  health account numbers generated for individuals till August 17, three-quarters had been created using the CoWIN, national Covid-19 vaccination portal, and the databases from national the health insurance scheme.

The pandemic appears to have given impetus to the generation of health data online, often without adequate data  protection, and there are concerns that many Indian citizens do not know that these accounts had been created using their name using their unique personal 'Aadhaar' number and mobile phone details.

The Aadhaar  is a 12-digit unique identity number voluntarily available to Indian citizens and is the world's largest biometric ID system

The CloudSEK report observed that the pandemic forced the healthcare industry to adopt new technologies it was not completely equipped to handle. “The transition wasn’t smooth and left multiple gaps in cyber security for the attackers to exploit,” the CloudSEK report observed. 

Security experts have expressed concern over the large-scale digitisation of medical records and the risk of the data being misused.

In 2021, the Indian government began using the CoWIN portal and app to record immunisations against Covid-19. According to CloudSEK , vaccination records suffered the most breaches globally, followed by the personal identifiable information of health workers and patients. Personal information included name, address, email, contact number and gender.

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