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Cybersecurity in Healthcare – For and Before

Open-CISO

Cybersecurity in Healthcare – For and Before

Society's worst nightmare is already here, "Cyberattacks on the healthcare industry." The trend to target the healthcare industries kicked off back in 2015 but, it has been immensely prevalent ever since then. Some cynical attackers even call this their "Golden Goose." This is indeed a worrisome trend to be in. families worldwide to the rest of the world. As the internet becomes globally available, cybercriminals from different countries can target and scam vulnerable people anywhere in the world, and there’s little law enforcement can do about it due to their limited jurisdiction, as the attackers often reside in rogue nations uninterested in enforcing the laws of hostile nations. As a result, these scammers often gain their foothold into loved ones’ lives via phishing, hacking, and other cybercrime tactics. Once these criminals have a backdoor into a life-care facility, the Safety of all who inhabit that home is in immense danger.

Over the years, this dramatic surge in cyberthreats to the healthcare sector has made headlines almost every month in the United States of America alone. However, one can imagine the volume of impact in other continents of the world as well. The merciless cybercriminals target the technologies and innovation in Healthcare and pose a direct threat to human life. With every groundbreaking innovation in automation, data analytics, and interoperability, the rise in malicious vulnerabilities in the same automated assets is also soaring. For instance, how about a compromised ECG machine meant to monitor your heart rate but only to show altered readings to your doctor. Sounds scary, right?

To articulate a variety of cyber threats in the absence of security and risks to healthcare assets and data types, outlined below are the top ten threats prevailing in the healthcare sector:

  1. Ransomware threat: This one is every hacker's crime to fame favorite. Ransomware attacks are supremely sophisticated enough to kingpin many medical devices by encrypting them and bringing an entire nation down to its knees. Imagine a ransomware attack on all the biggies like Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, national hospitals, and the government's health department of a nation. This is the apocalypse! A large majority of the ransomware attacks tend to encrypt confidential files that could disrupt business as usual, steal private information or misuse private assets like intellectual proprietary codes or patents and demand money in return to decrypt them. According to a survey conducted by a group of IT professionals in 2020, it has been observed that 1 in 3 healthcare organizations globally reported a ransomware attack hit them.
  2. Data exfiltration threat: Data exfiltration or data breach is one of the most common types of attack used to target health data. Unauthorized access to Personal Health Information (PHI) can be easily exfiltrated if the hackers pass through the company's network and scan for sensitive information. Data breaches are usually classified into two broad categories: internal and external. Internal staff mistakes or insider attack incidents lead to internal data breaches. An exhaustive list of repercussions includes disclosure of sensitive data to unauthorized individuals and unauthorized privilege escalation. External attacks such as a malware injection can result in a more significant loss of confidential information.
  3. Phishing threat: Email attacks are the most prominent threat to any organization, and healthcare companies are no special. In 2020, according to a survey conducted by a major hospital in California, data analytics show that a 700 percent increase of malicious links was sent to many hospitals via email, resulting in a successful phishing attack on that organization. Thanks to the lack of staff knowledge, pandemic, and very little focus on email protection. Although hackers have been focusing on email-based attacks for donkey's years, the pandemic has just proved the best phase to leverage fear and weakness to find a path into the user's data. According to a report by HIPPA, an average of 58% of data breaches were successful using a phishing attack in the 12 months in the U.S alone.
  4. Insecure Cloud Applications: Due to the recent surge in cloud adoption, the healthcare sector has also embraced many of its assets over to the cloud. However, cloud infrastructure can be complex. No wonder misconfiguration of cloud components can cause a manufactured threat. In addition, unwanted API exposure to the internet can invite multiple threats like unauthorized code visibility, unauthorized access to data, and vulnerable network open ports. Unsecured cloud storage can quickly escalate to a vast data breach threatening the reputation of the healthcare organization. Cloud software is designed to store all kinds of data, but the risks come in handy with every cloud deployment. For instance, if a 3rd-party supply chain cloud application is not secured enough, many hospitals may face considerable delays in receiving critical drugs for their patients.
  5. Vulnerable Internet of Things or IOT devices: Healthcare industries have widely adopted IoT devices to a large extent. These are specially used for most of their medical treatments. Many of these devices are directly connected and exposed to the internet for obvious reasons. But, first, embrace the use of data to improve patient outcomes. Many of these devices analyze patient conditions and their medical history that can be stored and retrieved from the cloud repository. Therefore, insufficient security around these widely used IoT devices can pose more significant threats to human lives beyond just the monetary setback. Medical devices like remote patient monitoring, ingestible sensors, and robotic surgery devices are amongst a few that are vulnerable to such cyber threats
  6. DDoS threat: Yet another prevalent and legacy attack threat type is Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS), a second to a phishing attack. This is also the most common type of threat that healthcare IT devices are prone to. Technological innovation has produced thousands of bad bots with immense popularity in artificial intelligence and machine learning. This trend has revolutionized how bad bots can cause collateral damage to medical devices and systems in the healthcare sector. These bad actors often get hold of the organizational network through a known vulnerability by obtaining privileged credentials and positioning the malware on all the critical devices. For example, bad bots overwhelm the appointment booking system by reserving all-time slots leaving no appointment slots for genuine patients.
  7. Credential stuffing: A poor authentication mechanism for a healthcare organization is like leaving the main door open for the attacks to attack them anytime. Although authentication is the first entry point for any organization, it's also the most vulnerable spot a hacker will target to traverse inside the company's network. With the increase in hi-tech authentication mechanisms like biometrics and facial recognition for operation theatres or medical storage rooms, organizations have forgotten about such sweet spots like usernames and passwords. Unfortunately, unless they're protected, the threat of an alleged authentication breach will always be on the rise.
  8. Bring your own device threats: Unlike IT organizations, the enterprises in the healthcare sector do not invest time and effort in scrutinizing their endpoint security posture. Removable devices play a pivotal role in sharing information at hospitals and other healthcare firms but at what cost? Business executives are not aware of the implications of using an unsafe USB drive loaded with trojan viruses. Instead, personal IT devices are to be blamed (available devices from the visiting medical faculties). The use of such devices within a corporate network of a hospital can cause severe damage. I'm sure no hospital in the world would want their payments being made to an account that is not one of theirs. Yes, this type of scenario is entirely plausible when a trojan virus resides in their network, unbeknownst to anyone. A recent survey conducted by a company that offers cybersecurity services released information about mobile devices being almost as vulnerable as approximately 93% of the time for most healthcare firms across the globe.
  9. Poor network security architecture design: An amateur network security architecture design can also pose a severe threat to the healthcare organization's business. Loosely coupled network security components can do no good for the company and the analysts even to control an attack on a targeted system. In addition, a naive network design can expose critical assets to the dark web, leading to a high amount of confidential data leakage at the network level. This can threaten all digital assets, financial and medical servers, such as database servers that hold records of multiple pharmaceutical companies that deliver their pharmaceutical supplies.
  10. Lack of sense of cyber awareness: Undoubtedly, a sheer lack of awareness posed by a healthcare organization's workforce can take human errors to an extremely high level of concern. Additionally, since employees have easy access to intellectual proprietary information, they are the prime targets for all cybercriminals and hackers. Although the staff is not a threat, a lack of cyber awareness can turn that positivity into a damaging impersonation threat to the organization. It can be used to intimidate other people in the firm or even blackmail for the umpteenth of reasons, mainly money. Threats can multiply in various departments such as financial theft, social security numbers being let out unintentionally, the organization's credit card information, or even patient demographic information.

If you work in life-care and don’t fully understand how cybersecurity relates to Safety for life-care facilities, we have good news: life-care cybersecurity is much simpler than cybersecurity in other modern industries, and with just a few small steps, you can do much good and keep residents safe from disasters. However, in this age, when gangs across the globe are targeting the most vulnerable infrastructure, the responsibility of providing safety and security to ensure life-care residents are protected, lies with the Cybersecurity Experts and Practitioners. FnCyber has the best practices offering Healthcare Cybersecurity Services and Strategies to keep institutions of life-care safe. In addition, FnCyber‘s tactics for keeping life-care residents safe from cybercrime are derived from standards and benchmarks in the security engineering industry. Let us explore!

Tactic #1: Audit your facilities’ networks

Hire an economic cybersecurity consulting services firm to help you find flaws in the overall IT Security Infrastructure, especially the network defenses. Most life-care threats come from within when a resident is hacked via a phishing attack leveraging their computer to scan and infect the rest of the network. From there, the attack spreads and infects other computers, eventually compromising the facilities’ machines and stealing confidential data and financial details to use for fraud. To prevent this, you need to find and fix issues before attackers can. A vulnerability assessment and pen-testing exercise would provide the most accurate representation of the security posture to formulate a strategy and prevent further issues. The basics are the most important here: aggressively keep any software used updated. Regularly scan the network for unrecognized devices and investigate abnormalities. You don’t need to hire an entire security team to do this; a competent Cybersecurity Expert or IT Security professional should conduct this regular task performed periodically.

However, hiring a security consulting services company specializing in life-care facility cybersecurity isn't a bad idea if you manage several facilities or even just one extensive facility. A security consultant can use a threat model specific to the infrastructure and work with the physical security team to keep residents safe from many attacks.

Tactic #2: Educate residents and families on basic self-protection

Life-care residents are highly desirable targets for cybercrime; investing in awareness workshops to spread the knowledge of healthcare cyber-threats and training them on staying safe online is an excellent place to start. The primary sources of malicious infection in your network almost certainly begin with an infection from the residents’ computing devices. Unfortunately, some stressful residents and their families may not attend or benefit from such an awareness, but a routine can prompt a better security understanding. In addition to education, you can also offer free IT help to residents with their devices to check for malware and virus infections, recommend malicious software removal, and set up basic protections like antivirus software and intrusion detection and protection configurations. These security practices keep life-care residents in a healthcare facility safe individually and protect the infrastructure by lowering the attack surface for that initial, critical foothold where an attacker finds a vulnerable machine to penetrate the internal network.

Tactic #3: Layered Defense Approach

The first defensive measure is network segmentation, separating the local network used by residents to access the internet entirely from the network used by your facility’s employees. They should not share any data between them, and there should be no way for a computer in one network to access anything on the other network. This step is so crucial because a small-time scammer targeting elderly life-care residents could easily infiltrate your life-care facility’s network and steal sensitive data or even begin launching a full-scale ransomware attack against the entire business by locking up and likely exfiltrating all of your data. For the same motive, you’d be wise to separate individual facilities in their networks and have a distinct network for company-wide communication and networking. It sounds like much work, but setting up an architecture like this should be pretty straightforward for a competent cybersecurity expert or hire a cybersecurity consultant to plan the entire project.

But the security in layers includes more than just physical network separations. employ the “principle of least privilege” and periodic access review so that sensitive data isn’t accessible to employees unless they need it and only for the required duration lowering the attack surface and therefore keeps all concerned safer from attack. Finally, the Chief of operations should help devise a strategy for reviewing and revoking access to sensitive systems. The idea here is to make it as hard as possible for an attacker to plant a foothold in your network and prevent any harm to healthcare infrastructure, and most importantly, the residents who trust you with their care.

Life-care security should be a big priority for facilities, considering how often citizens are the targeted victims of scams of financially-motivated crime. But there are strategies for mitigating these issues more accessible to apply than other industries. In addition, just a minor change in cybersecurity perspective can significantly improve the safety of residents and even their families.

The influence of cyber threats has certainly circumvented the field of Healthcare. The recent cyberattacks on laboratories, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and other healthcare organizations show that the healthcare industry is at the epitome of collateral damage. Unlimited mobile devices, financial accounts, life-saving medical devices, and last but not least, the same technologies that were invented to save lives are now used against itself by compromising them. The irony is that the industry leader and the governments are well aware of this heinous trend.

With that said, FnCyber has all the fundamentals of Functional Cybersecurity integrated into Healthcare to secure every citizen's healthcare data and personal health information and regain the trust in the nation's "healthcare system" is the need of the hour. FnCyber’s sane cyber security measures and a realistic strategy promise a safe and secure life-care. The situation is certainly unique but not new. When people's lives are at stake, and not just fortunes, FnCyber stands against this crime and invests heavily in the best and brightest of minds to safeguard the dignity of medical science and medical care as we know it.

Safeguard life with Healthcare Cybersecurity Practices
Cybersecurity is best when seeded into Business Functions. FnCyber assures you Direct and Uncomplicated Cybersecurity Consulting.

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