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Keeping Digital Health Organizations Safe from Cyber Attack | @CloudExpo #DX #Cloud #Security
We are learning that cybercrime isn’t always focused on economic gain
Sep. 2, 2017 12:00 PM
For health organizations, breaches are a constant threat, due to the high value of healthcare data - Social Security Numbers, treatment records, credit information, and other sensitive personally identifiable information (PII). And the cost of a breach to a health system or hospital can be devastating.
And the health care industry has seen its share of breaches in the past quarter alone. For example, the National Health Service in England and Scotland was hit by a Wanna Decryptor ransomware attack affecting at least 16 of its organizations. Within two days 150 countries were affected. Also last quarter, up to millions of patient records at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center in New York stored on a backup system managed by iHealth Innovations were exposed to a data breach.
Despite all the focus on preventing protected health information (PHI) theft and thwarting the next ransomware attack on a health organization, we are learning that cybercrime isn't always focused on economic gain. Some attacks have the goal of bringing critical infrastructure to its knees, as was likely the case of the recent Petya "ransomware" attack in Ukraine. Clearly bad actors and nation states have interests beyond ransom collection and PHI theft. This is beyond what we've seen for traditional cyberattacks, and these attacks can originate beyond a nation's borders.
These days it feels like health organizations are almost under constant attack, especially for ill-equipped, overworked IT staff suffering from the shortfall of qualified security staff. Fewer young people are interested in careers in cyber security (just as their Russian counterparts are attracted to hacking). This trend puts even more pressure on health security teams for innovation and automation for securing their organizations. Otherwise, they won't be able to keep up as their organizations digitalize and ride the Electronic Health Record (EHR) and mobile waves, all which expose more health information systems (HIS) to more attack surfaces.
Health organizations today are also challenged at times with the difficulty of finding the originators of an attack. Offshore state actors have resources available to conceal their identities. They can remain anonymous if desired, which makes the risk/reward ratio for hackers even more attractive. It may be matter of which health organizations are safest vs which are the best in determining the most successful organizations over the next five years.
Look at Ukraine to See the Future
The line between hackonomics and nation-sponsored cyberattacks gets blurred even further as nation states get more active in cybercrime. For those attackers funded by foreign benefactors, attribution of the attack can become even more complex. Yet these attacks, as has been shown, can propagate quickly beyond the attacked nation or organization.
Ukraine has witnessed infrastructure hacks and other cyberattacks resulting in infrastructure blackouts. More about this was written in the recent Wired article How an Entire Nation became Russia's Test Lab for Cyberwar.
Trusted Access Needed in the Medical Field
Just like trust is needed between patient and doctor, trust is the critical foundation for survival in the digital healthcare age. Without trust, the health industry cannot function effectively.
Health organizations need to rethink access control if they are to survive in the new digital world because the traditional security perimeter is helpless in defending against these new attacks. Health security teams need to adopt Zero Trust models of security, which limit connectivity to health systems based on device and user trust.
Trusted Access Control is a Zero Trust approach which leverages application-layer tunneling with software-defined perimeter technology (SDP) with advanced trust assessment that protects data far beyond traditional access control solutions. These new solutions assess trust of devices and users, and grant access to only specific applications and services based on granular trust-based decisions, instead of providing simple posture checking.
This new approach greatly reduces attack surfaces by isolating target health assets, such as HIS servers, from all devices and users, including potential attackers as well as legitimate users with possibly compromised devices. Health information can be seen by only those authorized users who have been authenticated, and whose devices have been verified as trusted and safe in their current context.
These new technologies and capabilities available to health organizations offer a considerable increase in security with less complexity and cost. As the shortage of health security experts increases, more powerful and easier to manage solutions that reduce capital and operating costs are needed. Along with effective security practices and operating discipline, these new solutions will help health organizations preserve trust and grow their practices without having to overspend on security to meet growing cyberattacks, especially since healthcare remains one of the biggest targets for attackers and threats to sensitive healthcare data.