The healthcare sector is ill-prepared for the cyber security threats that face the industry, according to research firm ABI Research.

Hospitals, clinics, trusts and insurers are constantly under attack from malicious online agents, and the value of personal health information—made more easily available with the convergence to electronic health records—is 10 times that of financial data such as credit card numbers, the firm says.

At the same time, medical identity theft and fraud are on the rise, with the past two years seeing hundreds of instances of data breaches leaking millions of personal records.

Despite all this, the industry spends little on cyber security, compared with other regulated critical industries, ABI says. The firm calculates cyber security spending for healthcare protection will only reach $10 billion globally by 2020, just under 10% of total spending on critical infrastructure security.

“Cyber security for healthcare is still a small, fragmented market but the potential opportunities for expansion are large and will continue to grow as healthcare organizations increasingly come under cyberfire,” Michela Menting, ABI Research digital security practice director, said in a statement.

The convergence to digital information, the implementation of secure cloud solutions and the protection of data as it moves through mobile health applications are new security issues the healthcare sector is looking to address, the report says. Models can be adapted from the financial services sector and could serve to build solutions for healthcare providers, it says.

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