Tag Archives: healthcare

UK healthcare organisations should be on high alert for ransomware

by Toby Hart

Over the past few days, one story in the US has threatened to overshadow even the race for the White House. A set of apparently coordinated ransomware attacks reportedly hit hundreds of hospitals, medical facilities and clinics. Although no warnings have thus far been issued by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) or NHS Digital, UK hospitals should be alert to the malicious campaign potentially spreading their way, and of other attackers targeting medical facilities already stretched to the limit with the fight against COVID-19.

The good news is that by detecting the early warning signs including the presence of TrickBot and/or Emotet Trojans, healthcare organisations (HCOs) can mitigate the threat before it has a chance to make a major impact.

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The Internet of Things: it’s in our Hospitals … But is it Safe?

by Bharat Mistry

Many of us probably don’t know it yet, but already the Internet of Things is creeping into every corner of our lives. From connected cars to on-board sensors inside aircraft, wearable fitness bands to smart cities – the possibilities are almost limitless for this new computing paradigm. Healthcare is one industry which has taken to the IoT with gusto, especially in the States where investment in new technologies tends to be ahead of the UK. Yes, networked devices can dramatically improve healthcare outcomes and patient wellbeing. But the problem is that manufacturers just aren’t putting enough thought into security and privacy at the design phase.

The result? Products are rushed to market with major security vulnerabilities, as one new piece of research has just found. Presenting at DerbyCon last weekend, two researchers claimed to have found 68,000 exposed IoT devices at just one unnamed healthcare organization. Continue reading

Q1 Security Roundup: What the Soaring Volume of Healthcare Breaches Can Teach Us

by Ross Dyer

The cyber threat landscape evolves so quickly that sometimes it’s difficult to keep up. But there are two things you can count on to stay the same: the bad guys will always follow the money; and they’ll always take the path of least resistance. Unfortunately for the healthcare industry, it appears that it has become the latest favourite target for cyber attackers eager to expose some serious security shortcomings and harvest a treasure trove of valuable personal data.

This is just one of the insights revealed by Trend Micro’s latest quarterly Security Roundup report, which should provide plenty of food for thought for IT leaders working across all industries. Keeping abreast of the latest from the threat landscape is vital if you want to avoid your organisation becoming that path of least resistance.

Why healthcare?
As the report details, the first three months of the year played host to a series of high profile breaches in the sector. First came US healthcare giant Anthem, which allowed hackers to make off with records on 80 million customers and staff. Then there was Premera Blue Cross, where 11 million records were exposed. These two have the dubious honour of replacing the NHS as responsible for the worst healthcare breaches since 2011.

In many ways it’s not surprising that cybercriminals are increasingly focusing their efforts on the health sector. First up, the information in question is highly sensitive – which usually means it will fetch a high price on the black market. It’s also constantly on the move through multiple systems managed by multiple providers – from e-patient record systems to medical devices, hospital patient management systems and patient portals. This means there are potentially more points of failure. Add to this an IT environment largely comprised of a hotch potch of new and legacy systems, and a mix of on-premise, cloud and virtual set-ups, and you begin to see where security gaps could appear.

It’s probably not surprising that in 2014, healthcare-related breaches accounted for 43% of the total figure, soaring from just 10% in 2005.

To an extent the same problems are present in other industries too, and the same mitigations are relevant across sectors. A quick five-point checklist should include:

Secure legacy systems: choose security tools with virtual patching to ensure systems running software like Windows Server 2003 are protected past their end-of-life date.

Secure portals/records systems/databases: whether data is on-premise, in the public cloud or sitting on virtual servers, it must be protected.

Prevent breaches: targeted attacks are designed to be stealthy, so invest in advanced tools like Deep Discovery to spot the tell-tale signs of a covert breach. It could save a lot of money in remediation and clean-up costs, industry fines, legal fees and reputational damage.

Protect data on endpoints: thanks to the cloud and BYOD there are more of these than ever before, exposing organisations to even greater risk. A “Custom Defense” strategy comprised of multi-layered defences will help.

Meet compliance requirements: healthcare is highly regulated, as are many other industries like financial services and government. Ensure you adhere to this patchwork of standards and frameworks in a holistic rather than a tick-box manner.

What else is new?
The report has a host of other interesting findings from the quarter including:

  • Old threats like Rocket Kitten and Pawn Storm evolved with new targeted attack tools, tactics and procedures
  • Exploit kits grew in sophistication
  • Volume of crypto-ransomware soared, and expanded to the enterprise
  • There was a resurgence of the old favourite, macro malware, taking advantage of security complacence