Getting a Handle on Cyberthreats Facing Rural HospitalsFortified Health Security's Kate Pierce on Challenges for Small Healthcare Entities
Cybercriminals are increasingly preying on small hospitals, often in rural communities, knowing that security defenses at these facilities are often much weaker than those at larger institutions.
A rural Illinois medical system that shut down today said the closing is partially due to fallout from a 2021 ransomware incident - and staff shortages. Kate Pierce, cybersecurity officer and former long-time CIO and CISO at a 25-bed community hospital in Vermont, said, "It's becoming really challenging for these small facilities to be able to keep up."
Small facilities face two major obstacles: finding, developing and retaining talent to keep up with the ever-growing cyberthreats and being prepared to respond to attacks, Pierce said in an interview with Information Security Media Group.
"Rural facilities aren't as robust as larger facilities, or they haven't properly exercised their ability to recover through their incident response plans," said Pierce, who now works as a virtual information security officer at Fortified Health Security. "They just don't have the staffing to double down on it."
In this interview with Information Security Media Group, Pierce also discussed:
- Bipartisan U.S. Senate legislation proposing ways to help rural hospitals address their security skills shortages (see: Bill for Rural Hospital Cyber Skills Passes Senate Committee);
- The wide, regional impact when cyberattacks hit rural hospitals and larger affiliated institutions;
- Advice to CIOs and CISOs of small and rural hospitals.
Pierce has over two decades of experience in healthcare. She focuses on small, rural and not-for-profit healthcare organizations. Prior to joining Fortified Health, Pierce was longtime CIO and CISO at North Country Hospital in Vermont.