A recent WESTMARC webinar addressed cybersecurity challenges and opportunities.

Businesses from small shops to huge organizations alike are concerned about cybersecurity.

That also means more jobs in one of the fastest-growing industries in the region and country.

Sun Health Communities Chief Information Officer Chip Burns talked about the challenges and opportunities of cybersecurity at WESTMARC’s recent West Valley Pipeline Industry Spotlight.

Burns has over 44 years’ experience in the information technology field and has specialized in the technology for the senior living industry since 1997. He served as a commissioner for the center for aging technologies for 10 years and was co-founder and sponsor of the leading age Hackfest.  

Referencing the black market, Burns outlined the expense of stolen information.  

“There is a tremendous need for technologists in health care but in senior living health care specifically. … The privacy of health information is so critical that the average cost of a credit card transaction that is stolen is about $400. The average cost of a stolen Social Security or Medicare number is about three times that,” said Burns. 

“Cybersecurity is a real thing, especially in health care.”

With 1.7 million residents in the West Valley, many seek to use technology to provide entertainment, maintain social distancing and fulfill work needs. But some have learned to take advantage of the dark web, using coding skills to breach and hack into hypersensitive information. 

“You’ve heard major companies like Target, major banks and even the Social Security Administration have been hacked and exposed a lot of information, medical information and credit information,” said Burns. 

Although banks, social sites and secured checkouts promise security and safety to individuals who often enter their Social Security numbers, usernames, passwords and PIN numbers using the internet, there have been mass breaches targeting senior living organizations due to the lack of cybersecurity. 

“At Sun Health we (defended) an average of 8,000 attacks every week … and we log all the attempts. We have cyber security audits every year to look at improving our system and how much we’re getting into that,” said Burns. 

Referencing information technology and citing CIO magazine, Burns commented, “In 2021, there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs globally.”

“Whether it’s pharmacy, therapy, rehab … we have a tremendous lack of technologists—not only in cybersecurity but all (technological) areas,” said Burns. 

Highlighting information technology jobs in the health care field, Burns outlined a career path that is in demand and highly sought after.

“Health care informatics. Regarding cyber security, a health care informatic specialist is someone who understands clinical issues and security issues. They can take and analyze data from many systems. They can pull all that information into data warehouses. They have to be quite aware of security. A starting salary of someone who is qualified in health care informatics is $90,000 in this area,” said Burns. 

According to the University of Maryland, data breach attempts occur every 39 seconds worldwide.  

To learn more, visit westmarc.pipelineaz.com.