Imaging Informatics
Securing the Future of Radiology Operations

Dhaval Shah, Executive Vice President - CitiusTech
Shujah Das Gupta, Vice President - Medical Technology, CitiusTech


  1. With the changing digital landscape, Radiology operations face increasing challenges to provide patients with fast access to diagnostic imaging while protecting sensitive healthcare data.
  2. The high cost of data breaches in radiology operations makes it essential to invest in cybersecurity infrastructure and prioritize cyber resilience to identify vulnerabilities and mitigate rising threats.
  3. By adopting new security technologies, conducting regular security and penetration assessments, and providing training programs for radiologists, radiology departments can improve efficiency and productivity while maintaining high levels of quality and accuracy.

Radiology operations provide a critical foundation for modern healthcare systems. They enable precise identification and improve treatment through imaging informatics. However, with the changing digital landscape, they face increasing challenges to provide patients with fast access to diagnostic imaging while protecting sensitive healthcare data. The frequency of cyber-attacks on radiology operations has increased in recent years. A report suggests healthcare organizations worldwide experienced an average of 1,463 cyber attacks per week in 2022, up 74% compared to the previous year, with radiology departments being one of the most targeted areas. These cybersecurity breaches compromise sensitive patient data and disrupt critical clinical workflows, leading to poor patient outcomes, misdiagnosis, and delayed treatments. As the cyber threat landscape continues to progress, Radiology faces an increasingly complex array of threats from cyberattacks. By implementing robust cybersecurity protocols and training staff on best practices for information security, radiology teams can ensure that patients receive accurate diagnoses and effective treatments without compromising privacy or safety.


Radiology operations handle a vast amount of sensitive information, including medical history, diagnosis reports, and images that require secure storage and transmission. Unfortunately, with the changing cyber threat landscape, criminal syndicates and hackers are constantly devising new ways to breach data security systems and gain access to this valuable information. The repercussions of a data breach can be dire, including legal action, public scrutiny, and interruptions in clinical care. These rising challenges can be overwhelming for healthcare professionals tasked with healthcare data.
The recent news reports highlight the frequency and potential impact of growing cyberattacks. For instance, a radiology firm reported a data breach to Montana's Attorney General on September 2, and another in New Mexico informed its patients of a data breach on October 12.


Furthermore, according to the Verizon 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report, healthcare was the primary target for run-of-the-mill hacking attacks and powerful ransomware campaigns. The report found 849 data breach incidents in healthcare, with 571 confirmed data disclosure events. Another statistic suggests that over 90% of healthcare organizations have encountered at least one data breach in the last two years alone. These alarming parameters highlight the urgent need for proactive measures to safeguard radiology operations, protect sensitive patient information, and avoid unauthorized access or misuse.Several radiology departments lack sufficient resources and expertise to handle cybersecurity threats, leading to inconsistent implementation of cybersecurity measures across the organization.
Along with the rising cybersecurity concerns, Radiology departments face a dramatic increase in data volumes created by sophisticated imaging technologies. For instance, three-dimensional mammography images are 20 times larger than their two-dimensional predecessors, pushing the resources of many radiology operations to their limits. In addition, radiology departments must share data through portals, hubs, and mobile devices, exposing patient data to greater risk from data breaches.




The type of cyber attacks targeting radiology departments has shifted, with employees no longer being the key offenders. The Verizon 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report notes, "With the rise of the Basic Web Application Attacks pattern in this vertical, those inside actors no longer hold sway. Move over, insiders; the big dogs are here." Therefore, Radiology departments must adapt to this changing landscape to safeguard patient data against cyber attacks. With the shifting scenario, cybersecurity resilience can be critical for radiology departments to safeguard patient data against cyber attacks. A recent report by Cisco Security Outcomes found that 96% of executives across all industries consider security resilience a high priority.
The complexity of medical imaging technology and the integration of medical devices with various IT systems make radiology departments more susceptible to cyber threats.



The high cost of data breaches in radiology operations makes it essential to invest in cybersecurity infrastructure and prioritize regular assessments to identify vulnerabilities and mitigate threats.
In light of the constantly evolving challenges, several radiology operations adopt a "wait-and-see" approach. However, this approach does not protect patient data or prevent future security breaches. Fortunately, there are realistic steps that all leaders can take to strengthen their defenses and safeguard radiology operations. These steps include:

Promote cybersecurity awareness & training programs for all employees and leadership
Phishing remains the top attack vector cyber criminals use to conduct ransomware attacks. However, adequate training and awareness programs in the radiology departments can easily prevent these attacks. In addition, educating employees, colleagues, and leadership about the importance of strong passwords, phishing attacks, and other cybersecurity risks can help create secure radiology operations.

Stay up-to-date with regulatory standards to ensure compliance
IT departments must develop interoperability resources and APIs to facilitate modern healthcare systems. However, these APIs and programs can be an open door for hackers. Therefore, radiology departments must ensure that these resources and APIs are up-to-date with security regulations and requirements. Best practices for ensuring compliance include regular audits of legacy IT systems, staff training, and updating security policies and procedures.

Consider cloud-based solutions for enhanced security measures and scalability
With cloud solutions, the medical data is stored in an encrypted format with multiple levels of protection, making it difficult for cybercriminals to infiltrate. Additionally, cloud-based solutions often come with enterprise-grade security measures, real-time monitoring, and scalable storage capacity to help meet rising demands.

Manage patient consent effectively to protect their privacy
Patient consent is vital in safeguarding patient data privacy. Radiology departments must ensure patients know how their data is being used, what information is being collected, and who has access to it. Any use of patient data should require consent, including sharing data with third-party vendors.

Vet third-party vendors thoroughly for proper security protocols
Radiology departments use third-party vendors for their IT services, including cloud vendors, value-added service providers, and managed service providers. Therefore, comprehensively vetting these vendors and assessing their cybersecurity posture is essential. This includes reviewing their security protocols, assessing their credentials, and evaluating their compliance standards. For example, cloud vendors must not only have passed HIPAA audits but also have earned HITRUST certification.

Adopt a zero-trust architecture & use best encryption practices
Zero-trust architecture approach involves treating every user or device attempting to access the system as potentially harmful until they can prove otherwise. Best-in-class encryption mechanisms can help ensure that data is encrypted in transit and at rest, protecting against potential breaches or cyber-attacks.

Hire third-party experts to identify weaknesses
Frequent security assessments and penetration testing can help to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in your security posture. Hiring a third-party security firm to conduct cybersecurity, penetration, and compliance testing can help ensure your radiology operations are as secure as possible.

Maintain continuous monitoring and vigilance against potential cybersecurity threats
Radiology departments must regularly review and update policies and procedures, conduct security assessments, and ensure the staff are trained on the latest threats and prevention techniques. In addition, it's essential to have a cybersecurity awareness culture and encourage employees to report suspicious activity.


No silver bullet can protect radiology operations from cyberattacks in today's ever-expanding threat landscape. But with knowledge and proactive action, radiologists and department leaders can make it far more difficult for those who intend to harm. As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, radiology operations need to stay vigilant in securing their systems against cyber threats to ensure patient data's confidentiality, integrity, and security.
By adopting new security technologies, conducting regular vulnerability assessments, and providing training and education programs for radiologists, radiology departments can improve efficiency and productivity while maintaining high levels of quality and accuracy.