Understanding the Cyber Risk Exposure in Health Care

Cyberattacks and malicious activity are most lucrative in the health care industry. Hackers find health care organizations attractive because they hold high volumes and sensitive information about patients, and rely on highly-vulnerable medical devices.

As medical procedures have improved and digital innovation has grown, so has the complexity of networks. Medical firms need to ensure they protect their data, employees and patients with appropriate data integrity and security solutions that don’t break the bank while controlling costs.

The danger is real. IBM’sCost of a Data Breach reportFor the 11th consecutive year, data breaches cost health care organizations the most. The average cost of a data breach in the health care sector rose to $9.23million this year, which is a 29.5% increase over the previous year. That’s more than any other industry, with the financial sector being a distant second, at $5.72 million. Medical organizations also saw an 185% increase this year in data breaches related to health care. 

Cybersecurity in Health Care presents significant challenges

Health care organizations face significant vulnerabilities from outdated or legacy technologies that are attractive targets for today’s cyber attackers. The problem is that most of the newer medical equipment are not being designed with cybersecurity in mind. Traditional vulnerability management approaches pose many challenges in modern IT environments for healthcare IT. Traditional methods may be ineffective due to new technology or technical limitations.

Cybersecurity in health care is under threat from a variety of sources, including:

Phishing attacks

Cybercriminals target victims via email, social media, and text messages. The attacker pretends to send legitimate emails and tries trick victims into opening malicious attachments. This allows the attackers to steal personally identifiable information (PII), including login credentials and credit card information.

Insider Threats

Insider threats are when employees become disgruntled and sell or leak data or if employees are negligent. Both can lead to health care data being stolen and made available for sale on hacker websites. External actors can also attack hospitals through insider threats.

Internet of Medical Things Attacks

The number of internet-connected medical equipment continues to grow in the health sector, collectively known by the Internet of Medical Things or IoMT devices. These connected devices, such as infusion pumps, smart imaging system, inhalers, thermometers, and infusion pumps, are becoming increasingly important in the care of patients. However, many connected devices don’t have adequate built-in security and can’t be controlled or monitored by traditional IT security products. This makes IoMT devices highly vulnerable to cyberattacks. Cybercriminals must be prevented from accessing and exploiting the data that they generate.

Gary Arnold, director for strategic partnerships at Armis, is an example of the danger. “In May 2021, Armis researchers discovered PwnedPiper, which is a series of nine critical vulnerabilities in the Nexus Control Panel that controls Swisslog Healthcare’s Translogic pneumatic tube system (PTS) stations. The infrastructure delivers medication, blood products and lab samples to more than 3,000 hospitals worldwide. However, the vulnerabilities allowed attackers to seize control of PTS stations and deploy ransomware that could enable them to launch denial of service (DoS) or man-in-the-middle attacks.”

Ransomware Attacks 

Ransomware is a major threat to medical institutions. This malware is used to gain unauthorized access to a network, inject malware to lock users out, steal data, or paralyze a system to prevent them from accessing it. After gaining unauthorized access to a network, the attacker demands ransom. The ransom includes the promise of a decryption key and the return of the stolen data.

Telemedicine and Remote Connectivity Risks 

Many health care organizations have seen an increase in online consultations in the past 18 months. Telemedicine and remote connectivity offer patients and medical staff both ease of access. However, they also increase the risk of cyberattacks and health care data breaches if they aren’t adequately protected or if users don’t have secure access.

How to Secure Health Care Data and Organizations

Implementing the right security solutions can help to reduce the impact of cyber crime on the health care sector. Businesses can avoid data loss, leakage, and theft by using the right security tools and providing sufficient training. It also allows for visibility into system and device vulnerabilities. Employees are better equipped than others to spot signs of a cyberattack. This allows organizations to quickly respond to attacks and minimize the damage.

Armis and IBM offer security solutions and services for life sciences and health care companies to protect them from the rising tides of cybercrime. These include:

  • Working with the client on security solutions that provide visibility to devices, networks, and other vulnerabilities to be scanned for potential exploits by attackers.
  • Security controls to address known security weaknesses
  • Integrating Armis Security Solution with the Security Operations Center to monitor medical and support systems for new vulnerabilities, cyberattacks, and system changes that could negatively impact the business.
  • Armis and IBM assist health care organizations in protecting their systems by monitoring and assessing device behavior and monitoring for potential risks. These solutions also give clear visibility into who or whatever is trying to access their corporate networks. These solutions are capable of monitoring Wi-Fi networks for potential network intrusion or data exfiltration. They also monitor devices that aren’t directly connected to networks, such as defibrillators or devices like smart lights, smart locks and wearables.

    Cybercriminals are outnumbered

    Cyberattacks are becoming more common in the health care sector. Their security threat level rises as they deploy more sophisticated devices and networks, and expand remote care. Medical companies need to ensure their users and devices remain safe by deploying solutions to increase visibility of their attack surface, combat emerging threats, or keep their network secure.

    Find out the key considerations that will help you and your organization win the cybercriminals battle. Download this Armis whitepaper.


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