top of page

Cyber-attacks in the social care sector: Safeguarding lives in the digital age

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

In recent years, the social care sector has witnessed an unprecedented surge in cyberattacks as a high-value target for criminals. With the convergence of sensitive patient data, outdated security systems, and sophisticated hacking techniques it has created a perfect storm for cybercriminals seeking to exploit vulnerabilities for personal gain.

Here we explore the growing menace of cyber-attacks in the social care sector and the urgent need for robust security measures to safeguard not only data but also the lives of countless service users.

Targeting vulnerabilities

A major challenge in securing social care systems is the presence of outdated and vulnerable infrastructure. Many institutions struggle to keep up with the latest security updates and fail to implement multi-factor authentication and encryption protocols. Additionally, human error, such as falling victim to phishing attacks, expose sensitive information to malicious actors.

The evolving landscape of cyber threats

The social care sector is attacked daily with cyber threats, including:

· phishing and other malicious emails

· automated scanning for common software vulnerabilities

· attempted fraud

The most significant cyber threat the sector faces is ransomware. Phishing and malware are recognised as low sophistication ‘commodity attacks’, easily usable by a wide range of cyber criminals. See NCSC guidance to better understand phishing, malware and ransomware.

As well as disrupting services, ransomware attacks globally are increasingly seen to include data theft and extortion with a threat of data leaks, which in health and social care could lead to significant distress and potential harm for patients, service users and staff.

Mitigating cyber risks

To counter the escalating cyber threats, social care institutions should adopt a proactive approach to cyber security. This includes conducting regular risk assessments, the use of security tools, and providing regular training to staff to recognise and report potential threats. Collaborating with cybersecurity experts and sharing information about new attack vectors can strengthen the industry's collective defence.

What should you do next?

Cyber-attacks in the social care sector pose a clear and present danger to data privacy.

By acknowledging the severity of the threat, prioritising investment in cyber security, and fostering a culture of vigilance, organisations can protect not only their own operations but also the lives and well-being of countless who rely on their services.

New initiative for the social care sector

In response to this growing issue, the Welsh Government has launched a new initiative that offers training on how you can improve your organisation’s cyber security. It has procured 2,500 social care training licenses in cyber security that will enable social care staff to access for free the platform, Matobo Learning, where they can access online cyber training resources.

If you would like to learn more about this initiative then read our blog here, or to book bespoke security awareness training for your team, then contact the WCRC at


The contents of this website are provided for general information only and are not intended to replace specific professional advice relevant to your situation. The intention of The Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales is to encourage cyber resilience by raising issues and disseminating information on the experiences and initiatives of others. Articles on the website cannot by their nature be comprehensive and may not reflect most recent legislation, practice, or application to your circumstances. The Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales provides affordable services and Trusted Partners if you need specific support. For specific questions please contact us.

The Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales does not accept any responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on information or materials published on this document. The Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales is not responsible for the content of external internet sites that link to this site or which are linked from it.

bottom of page