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ANOTHER KIND OF VIRUS

Telehealth’s success created a cybersecurity nightmare

A doctor in a white lab coat sits in front of a laptop.
REUTERS/Issei Kato
A doctor in a white lab coat sits in front of a laptop.
  • Nicolás Rivero
By Nicolás Rivero

Tech Reporter

In response to the pandemic, healthcare systems around the world have brought down many of the regulatory barriers to telehealth. More patients than ever have been able to reach their doctors from their homes, using popular video chat platforms like FaceTime, WhatsApp, Zoom, and Facebook Messenger.

For the most part, that’s a good thing: Patients can see doctors from the comfort and convenience of their own homes, without raising their risk of contracting the deadly coronavirus. Healthcare providers benefit from continuing to see non-Covid patients, who bring in a much-needed stream of revenue.

But the rise of telemedicine also brings at least one big risk: All these virtual visits are generating a mountain of digital healthcare data, which has to be secured against increasingly aggressive cyber attacks. Now, healthcare providers have to worry about the security of their own IT systems as well as that of all the devices in their patients’ homes. Patients may not think about cybersecurity very much, but there’s a lot they can do to protect their data.

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